Every so often, news of a mysterious creature at Loch Ness comes trickling out of Scotland. Usually these “Nessie” sightings come in the form of an odd blurry shape in the background of a tourist’s family photo, disappointing monster hunters everywhere when yet another floating hunk of twigs and lake kelp, or perhaps a runaway inflatable raft, is pulled from the deep. It’s not often, however, that irrefutable evidence of life in Loch Ness comes from a source as highly esteemed as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A team from MIT was conducting a sonar scan to map the lake floor recently when it ran across an unexpected beast: a common toad. Rather than the toad itself being mysterious, though, scientists were more in awe of its diving abilities. It was spotted crawling around in the mud 324 feet below the surface, which apparently is pretty deep for an amphibian and well below the depth at which the researchers were expecting to find anything other than your standard bottom-dwelling fish, mollusks and supersized swimming dinosaur-lizard hybrids. Maybe the MIT team should ask the toad if it’s seen anything suspicious lately . . . —Bjorn Carey