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Labynkyr

Local stories from the few villagers that inhabit Russia’s Siberian wasteland tell of a “lake devil” not unlike the Loch Ness Monster or many other similar creatures. Unlike the Loch Ness Monster the creature more modernly known as the Labynkyr Monster was found, examined, and proven real. Welcome to Oymyakon Siberia…

One could barely call Oymyakon a village, its population has never exceeded 450 people, mostly fishermen, and the only other place on Earth with a lower wintertime temperature is Antarctica. It’s surprising then that anybody had even heard of the Siberian Lake Devil, yet tales of the creature on numerous occasions drew researchers from as far as Western Europe. This attention was due to the fact that the creature was not in any way shy, most (if not all) Oymyakon residents who ventured to Lake Labynkyr had spotted it at one point or another.

The creature came to be called the Labynkyr Monster by cryptid enthusiasts internationally and was said to have a body shape more resembling an elongated lizard than a fish. It was described as having short legs, and an exceptionally long tail. Eventually somebody called it a giant monitor lizard and the description gave way to speculation that the Siberian Lake Devil was in fact a long extinct prehistoric monster of a lizard known as the Mosasaur. Aside from the fact that Mosasaurs went extinct seventy million years ago, there was one other major problem with this connection, Mosasaurs were warm water creatures. The idea that this dinosaur was still alive was as impossible as it having ever existed in this part of the world, except that Lake Labynkyr is itself an anomaly. It is a lake in a frozen wasteland that never freezes and has been the subject of muerous scientific examinations for this reason as well.

Despite the impossibility of it, sightings continued and the creature gained even more notoriety as “Russia’s Loch Ness Monster”. More notable than the sightings were the physical encounters – researchers and fishermen alike were reporting that even on days with clear skies and calm waters unexplained waves would grow around their boat and suddenly the boat would be “bumped” by something large moving under the water. These reports date back as far as the 1920’s with Gennady Borodulin recounting a tale from Labynkyr in his book ‘A Trip to the Cold Pole’. The account tells of a local family out hunting deer when they rested at the lake and their son was attacked by the creature. In it, he recounts that the family “saw the child being carried away by an unknown animal to the centre of the lake. It was a dark creature, with a mouth looking like a bird's beak. It held the child and moved away with quick rushes, then it dived leaving huge waves and dragged the child under the water.” This same account tells that the grandfather of the child returned to the lake and managed to kill the creature with set traps and bait. In 2006 researchers using a Humminbird Piranha MAX 215 Portable fish-finder registered a large six and a half meter sonar shadow moving under their boat. Many other researchers visited Lake Labynkyr to find “Russia’s Loch Ness Monster”, but in 2013 a research team not at all interested in the Siberian Lake Devil made the most startling discovery of them all.

While the team was studying the isolated wildlife of the lake, divers were recording footage of the bottom and taking samples. In the footage they later discovered the unmistakeable and unexplainable form of a giant skeleton which to a large degree matched the description of the Labynkyr Monster. The details were specific enough that the team was able to isolate a large set of jaws. 

The head of the Russian Georgraphical Society Underwater Research Team responsible for the find was reluctant to give-way to stories of the creature deep within Lake Labynkyr, but when asked could only say "We didn't manage to prove or to disprove these versions... we managed to find remains of jaws and skeleton of some animal." Other speculations as to the origins of the skeleton found include a seven meter long pike, which is not that much less terrifying.For centuries, strange reports of a large, underwater creature have come from people living near the remote Lake Labynkyr in Siberia. A team of scientists from the Russian Geographical Society report they've found the skeletal remains of an animal that fits the description of the "Devil" of Lake Labynkyr, according to the Siberian Times, though skeptics have yet to be convinced of the legendary creature's existence.

"There have been all sorts of hypotheses about what kind of creature it could be: a giant pike, a … reptile or an amphibian," said research team geologist Viktor Tverdokhlebov, as quoted in the Siberian Times. "We didn't manage to prove or to disprove these versions … [but] we managed to find remains of jaws and skeleton of some animal."

The Russian research team — which included divers from the Russian Emergencies Ministry, camera people from the Sakha National Broadcasting Company and scientists from Yakutsk State University — was exploring the lake bottom to gather samples of water, plants and animals. 

And on the bottom of the lake, using an underwater scanner, they discovered the large jawbone and skeleton, the Voice of Russia reports. Despite their claims, the team brought no physical evidence of their purported find to the surface.

The lake itself has been a source of scientific mystery for generations. Though other lakes in the region freeze solid during the long Siberian winter, Lake Labynkyr doesn't — it maintains a near-constant surface temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), according to the Daily Mail.

This has led some to speculate that an underground hot spring may warm the lake. This scenario is plausible, as much of the rock in the Lake Labynkyr area is volcanic, and scientists know most of the eastern Siberia area is seismically active, according to the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System.

The large lake measures roughly 17 square miles (45 square kilometers) in area and has an average depth of 171 feet (52 meters), though a large underwater trench runs as deep as 263 feet (80 m), the Daily Mail reports.

This is not the first time some evidence of Lake Labynkyr's "Devil" has surfaced. In addition to local folklore, some scientists have reported seeing a strange creature in the lake (and in nearby Lake Vorota).

In 1953, a team of geologists from the Soviet Academy of Sciences led by Viktor Tverdokhlebov visited Lake Vorota. Tverdokhlebov reported seeing a large, underwater animal the size of an orca swimming near the surface of the lake, according to a report in the Siberia Times.

And in 2012, an associate professor of biogeography at Moscow State University Ludmila Emeliyanova claimed that she used sonar readings to record several large, underwater objects in Lake Labynkyr.

"I can't say we literally found and touched something unusual there, but we did register with our echo-sounding device several seriously big, underwater objects, bigger than a fish, bigger than even a group of fish," Emeliyanova said, as quoted in the Siberia Times."

Of course, considerable skepticism surrounds rumors of the Labynkyr "Devil" and any Vorota "monster," especially given the lack of any verifiable photographs, video or physical evidence.

Yury Gerasimov, of the Institute of Freshwater Biology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, casts doubt on any such cryptozoological reports, according to the Siberian Times. He questioned claims regarding the creature's size.

"If we trust the stories about this 'Devil,' there must be about 1.5 meters [5 feet] between its eyes. It means the length of its body must be about 7 to 8 meters [23 to 26 feet]," Gerasimov told the Siberia Times.

It's often supposed that the creature is a large fish such as a pike. However, "pike do not live so long in order to reach such a big size," Gerasimov said. "There are two factors that help fish to grow: nutrition and comfortable water temperatures. Even if nutrition is perfect there, surely the temperatures are not that high. So, in my opinion, the view about a huge pike is a fantastic one," Gerasimov said.

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