Sightings of a long-necked marine creature in the waters off the coast of Cornwall have made people question whether a prehistoric sea giant could still be alive.
Dozens of people over the years have claimed to have seen a 20ft long snake-like creature, dark-skinned with humps on its back, slithering its way through the sea.
And some of them were convinced that the sightings meant plesiosaurs, marine giants which first appeared 203 million years ago, are still alive.
Sightings can be traced back about 140 years when a long-necked beast was allegedly caught by fishermen in Gerrans Bay.
And there are so many that the sightings have been turned into a legend, with the mysterious creature being named Morgawr, Cornish for sea giant.
Back in July 1949 Harold T Wilkins and a friend said they were in a tidal creek in Cornwall when they saw “two remarkable saurians, 15-20ft long, just like a pair of Mesozoic plesiosaur”.
In 2002, a former Natural History Museum worker claimed he captured the reptile on camera.
John Holmes released strange footage which he had filmed three years prior in Gerrans Bay, off the Roseland Peninsula.
Mr Holmes, who lived in Sticker near St Austell, said at the time: “My pet theory is that it was a living fossil. I think that there is a group of plesiosaurs going around in the oceans of the world.
“All around Britain, there have been sightings of sea serpents.”
He said the footage showed the head of a 2.2-metre long creature, rising about one metre above the water.
Mr Holmes, who worked as a higher scientific officer at the Natural History Museum for 19 years, said that he had waited so long to release the film for fear of being ridiculed.
But, after showing it to experts during the last year, they all seemed puzzled as to the creature’s identity.
“What caught my attention was the bizarre movement out to sea,” he said.
“The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It wasn’t gargantuan but big enough to rule out marine birds.”
To this day, there are many people around the world who, like Mr Holmes, think plesiosaurs defied death and still exist.
The most famous “present-day plesiosaur” example is the legendary Loch Ness monster.
But when researchers from New Zealand extracted DNA from water samples from the loch in 2019, in an attempt to catalogue its living species, they didn’t find any proof of large animals or a plesiosaur.
Prof Neil Gemmell told the BBC: “I don’t think the plesiosaur idea holds up based on the data that we have obtained.
“There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness, with eel DNA found at pretty much every location sampled – there are a lot of them. So – are they giant eels?”
Adam S Smith, a plesiosaur palaeontologist and curator of Natural Sciences at Nottingham Natural History Museum, concluded that “Unfortunately, living plesiosaurs almost certainly do not exist today”.
For the latest breaking news stories and incredible tales from the Daily Star, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.