The Patagonian Plesiosaur
Nahuelito is a serpentine lake monster said to reside in Nahuel Huapi Lake, a 205 square mile lake located in the lake region of northern Patagonia between the provinces of Río Negro and Neuquén, Argentina.
Old News to the Natives
The first documented sighting of the creature, said to have occurred in 1910, was reported to the Toronto Globe in 1922 by George Garret, an employee of a Nahuel Huapi company. Encounters with the mysterious aquatic cryptid long predate Garret’s experience and were a part of the oral tradition of the regions indigenous peoples. Nonetheless, Garret’s encounter was picked up by the international press and would lead to numerous expeditions to the region throughout the 20th century. More recently, the Argentine Navy was said to have pursued an “unidentified object” in the waters of Nahuel Huapi Lake for nearly three weeks.
What’s Down There??
With sightings occurring regularly to the present day, there are many theories about what is lurking beneath the surface of Nahuel Huapi Lake. As with Nessie, Champ, and a host of other lake monsters, there is speculation that the creature is one of a small number of prehistoric aquatic animals that has evolved and avoided extinction. The most commonly referred to creature in this line of thinking it the plesiosaur, a large marine reptile thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period, about 66 million years ago. While intriguing, this explanation does not appear to be supported by grainy photographs taken of the creature in both 1988 and, more recently, 2006. In these instances, the creature appeared to have a more streamlined, serpentine-like body. Another explanation is that the creature is a mutation, the result of 1950’s nuclear experiments carried out on nearby Huemul Island. While intriguing, this explanation would not explain the lengthy history of sightings predating this occurrence.
Whatever it is, there is no doubt that while not as well-known as Nessie, the Nahuelito has reached rock star status in the cryptid world of South America, with more than that 50% of the inhabitants of the nearby city of Bariloche believing in the existence of the evasive, aquatic cryptid.
For more reading, including possible explanations, visit -https://www.patagonia-argentina.com/en/the-nahuelito-enigma/