A mysterious sea creature with a set of sharp teeth washed up on a U.K. beach last week, prompting wide speculation as to what it could be—the wildest being a dinosaur or the Loch Ness Monster.
David Mackland was walking with his family on Easthaven beach north of St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland when he came across the carcass of the menacing creature. He had no idea what he had stumbled upon.
"We were just walking on the beach to see what we could find and we came across this," Mackland told the U.K. Evening Telegraph. "I would say it was 4 to 5 feet long and about a foot wide. It was pretty big.
"You could see the teeth straight away.
"I don't know what it is. To be honest, I looks a bit like an eel … You don't usually see stuff like that. You very rarely see fish on the beach. You sometimes see dead birds, but it is unusual to see that."
Mackland said a big chunk had been taken out of it and that it must have been killed at sea before washing up on the beach. He took photos and set out to determine its identity.
Online speculation ran the gamut from the humorous—a relative of Nessie?—to the more logical. Pike, shark, eel, and ling were among the guesses. Stephen McKelvie of the St. Andrews Aquarium also weighed in on the matter.
"It may be an oarfish,” McKelvie told the Evening Telegraph. "There was a specimen found near Carnoustie a few weeks back. It could be that this oarfish was left on the beach and the mystery creature is the desiccated corpse. It's hard to tell because we are unsure of the size and dimensions of the oarfish they found a few weeks ago.
"The alternate idea is that it is a Conger eel that has been caught and left on the beach, or has died naturally and has washed up. The shape of the jaw and the pattern of the teeth are the only things to go on, because of the level of mortification."
Mackland returned to the beach on Saturday for a beach cleanup.
"I had the lovely task of bagging the carcass," he wrote GrindTV Outdoor in an email. "I'm just shy of 6 foot tall, so you can see from the picture that it's almost 6 foot long rather than the 4 to 5 feet that I'd estimated."
Mackland told GrindTV Outdoor that his initial reaction upon finding the creature was, "What the heck's that?"
"When you get a look at the head and the teeth you think, 'Now that's one mean-looking fish,'" he added.
In the end, the St. Andrews Sea Life Center identified the frightening creature as a Conger eel, though we kind of like the theory it's related to the Loch Ness Monster.
Photos courtesy of David Mackland and OurCarnoustie.