What do I think of Jimmy Wright’s recent photograph published on Facebook, which he took while out walking on Crow Hill in Killearn, Stirlingshire?
Well, I know what I don’t think: I don’t think it is Nessie transported 125 miles south from her more traditional stamping grounds; and I don’t think it is either a rogue monitor lizard or some kind of mysterious hybrid creature somewhere between a stoat and a tortoise, as has been suggested in some quarters.
Lots of people have said “tree stump”. Let’s be kind, let’s go with that.
Within the subject of cryptozoology there is a blurred region, which exists not on the border of the Trossachs, but on the border between science and religion. On one side is cryptozoology-fact, on the other side cryptozoology-fiction but, as with all religion, on the fictional side there is a great deal of entirely genuine faith practically willing the impossible to be true.
Within this blurred area there is plenty of scope for fakery and exploitation. In the same way that there have been far more bones of Christ sold as religious icons than could have ever belonged to a single being, so there have been an untold number of questionable internet images purporting to be Nessie or Bigfoot or the Chupacabra.
Now, I am not altogether against this. Silly season sensations raise the profile of cryptozoology and heighten public interest. In some small way, they even prevent potential extinctions. Take Nessie: she continues to exist only while the public keep her in its consciousness. Forget her, and all you are left with is a dark and gloomy loch.
© Bradley Dunbar
Bradley Dunbar is a bit dubious about the mystery beast of Killearn.