An enormous sea serpent with an uncanny resemblance to the mythical Loch Ness Monster has been discovered.

Unfortunately for monster hunters wishing to get a clearer picture of "Nessie", they may be about 70 million years too late.

Palaeontologists discovered the fossilised, 15-ton sea monster while excavating a site in Antarctica. The elasmosaur is the biggest and most complete specimen ever discovered.

Nessie? Robert Kenneth Wilson's famous 1934 photo of the 'Loch Ness Monster' near Inverness, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images
Nessie? Robert Kenneth Wilson's famous 1934 photo of the 'Loch Ness Monster' near Inverness, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images

A long way from Scotland's Great Glen, this distant cousin of Nessie is closer to New Zealand than Loch Ness.

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However the likeness to the popular depiction of the monster and much reproduced 1934 photo by Robert Kenneth Wilson is uncanny.

Four fins propelling a long serpent-like neck with a large skull – the specimen is one of the most complete ever to be recovered in the Antarctic.

At a length of almost 12 metres the new discovery is a monster, even by dinosaur standards. The previous largest example known to science was a good four tons lighter and incomplete.

Little nessie: A rare Plesiosaur skeleton goes up for auction. Photo /Gareth Fuller, Getty Images
Little nessie: A rare Plesiosaur skeleton goes up for auction. Photo /Gareth Fuller, Getty Images

However, more than beating records, the fossil finally gives scientists proof that the animals existed.

"For years it was a mystery ... we didn't know if they were elasmosaurs or not,' said José O'Gorman of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina.

"They were some kind of weird plesiosaurs that nobody knew," O'Gorman told the National Geographic.

The fossil was first discovered by an expedition in 1989, however the team led by William Zinsmeister of Purdue University lacked the resources to dig up the monster.

It has taken decades of logistical negotiations to bring the remains of the sea monster to the surface.

Nessie Land: The monster is worth $80 million to the Scottish economy. Photo / Instagram.com, @andreaboren
Nessie Land: The monster is worth $80 million to the Scottish economy. Photo / Instagram.com, @andreaboren

Having overcome difficult conditions and the remote location of the Antarctic dig site, the first portion of the skeleton was recovered in 2017.

The Cretaceous-era fossil is estimated to be around 70 million years old, which places it very close to the mass-extinction event that wiped dinosaurs off the planet.

Although a long way from bonnie Scotland, some are already likening the skeleton to that of the Loch Ness monster.

Uncanny: Royal Air Force pilot Tom Dinsdale with a model he made of what he claims was the Loch Ness Monster. Photo / Getty Images
Uncanny: Royal Air Force pilot Tom Dinsdale with a model he made of what he claims was the Loch Ness Monster. Photo / Getty Images

With the increasing number of discoveries and awareness of the marine fossils such as plesiosaurs through the 19th and 20th centuries, experts have suggested that made people more willing to believe in the romantic notion of the Scottish lake monster.

Sea-Serpents, 1896: 19th century fossils may have started the monster myth. Illustration / Joseph Smit, Getty Images
Sea-Serpents, 1896: 19th century fossils may have started the monster myth. Illustration / Joseph Smit, Getty Images

"The discovery of long-necked marine reptile fossils in the 19th century does appear to have had an influence on what people believe they have spotted in the water," Charles Paxton of the University of St Andrews told Fox News.

Today the monster myth is worth £41million (NZ$80 million) to the local Scottish economy according to figures reported by the Press and Journal.