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"...a convincing argument based, again, on data mapping. He plotted the distribution of North American lake monster sightings. Then he overlaid the distribution of the common otter and found a near perfect match. It turns out that three or four otters swimming in a line look remarkably like a serpentine, humped creature undulating through the water. It is very easy to mistake for a single creature if you see them from a distance. "This isn't speculation. I'm not making this up," Nickell said. "I've spoken to people who saw what they thought was a lake monster, got closer and discovered it was actually a line of otters. That really happens." Clearly, not every lake monster sighting can be accounted for with otters, but it's an excellent example of how our perceptions can be fooled.
As noted by the Swedish naturalist and author Bengt Sjögren (1980), the present-day lake monsters are variations of older legends of water kelpies. Sjögren claims that the accounts of lake-monsters have changed during history. Older reports often talk about horse-like appearances, but more modern reports often have more reptile and dinosaur-like-appearances, and Sjögren concludes that the legendary kelpies evolved into the present day saurian lake-monsters since the discovery of dinosaurs and giant aquatic reptiles and the popularization of them in both scientific and fictional writings and art.
Well-known lake monsters include:
- Nessie, in Loch Ness, Scotland
- Morag, in Loch Morar, Scotland
- Lagarfljót Worm, in Lagarfljót, Iceland
- Ogopogo, in Okanagan Lake, Canada
- Lariosauro, in Lake Como, Italy
- Champ, in Lake Champlain, Canada and US
- Memphre, in Lake Memphremagog, Canada and US
- Nahuelito, in Nahuel Huapi Lake, Argentina
- Muyso or Monster of Lake Tota, in Lake Tota, Colombia
- Van Gölü Canavarı or Lake Van Monster, in Lake Van, Turkey
- Inkanyamba, in Howick Falls, South Africa
- Tahoe Tessie, in Lake Tahoe, US
- Pepie, in Lake Pepin, US
- Flathead Lake Monster, Flathead Lake, Montana, US
- Radford, Ben; Nickell, Joe (May 2006). Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World's Most Elusive Creatures. University Press of Kentucky. ASIN B0078XFQKQ.
- Grabianowski, Ed (August 12, 2011). "Paranormal Investigator Joe Nickell Reveals the Truth Behind Modern Cryptozoological Myths". io9.