The advent of smartphones proves that the Loch Ness Monster is a myth, a leading scientist has claimed.
The ubiquity of camera-enabled devices means the creature would have been photographed by now if it existed, according to palaeontologist Dr Darren Naish.
However, the University of Southampton expert on cryptozoology – the pseudoscience of mythical creatures – said the last few years had seen a record low of reported sightings.
The same goes for other “cryptids”, such as the Himalayan Yeti, the Australian Bunyip and American’s Bigfoot.
“Everybody has good phones,” said Dr Naish. “You really would think they’d be more and better photos, but the only things that ever have ever appeared are terribly low resolution little blobs in the distance.
“I would say that the fact that we haven’t got any of the evidence that we should have by now – alarm bells are ringing.
“It’s all speaking towards the fact that this is a cultural event, a belief system.”
As sales of camera-equipped phones have soared, there have been droughts of several years with no new Nessie pictures, he said.
Those that have emerged are unconvincing. Cryptozoologists have taken to calling them “blobsquatch pictures”.
The name is a play on “Sasquatch” meant to convey how the purported monster invariably appears as a tiny, indistinct blur.
Most scientists argue it is unlikely that a creature such as Nessie – which purportedly resembles a cold-blooded reptile – could survive in the cold Scottish waters.
They also say the 22-tonne stock of fish in the loch would not be sufficient to sustain a population of giant plesiosaurs.
Sceptics further argue that if such a creature did or had existed, the bones of its ancestors would have been detected by now.
In 2003 the BBC took part in a large search for the monster, including the use of 600 sonar devices, but nothing was detected.