Meet Storsjöodjuret, the Legendary Swedish Lake Monster That Rivals Nessie

Andreas Eriksson, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Andreas Eriksson, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 / Andreas Eriksson, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Loch Ness in Scotland isn't the only European destination that boasts a legendary lake monster: Sweden claims to be home to a mythical, aquatic beast of its own. Storsjöodjuret, an underwater creature said to occupy the depths of Lake Storsjön, has been an important part of Swedish folklore for centuries, according to Mysterious Universe.

Like the Loch Ness Monster and Lake Champlain's Champ, Storsjöodjuret has been described as having a humped back and a long neck and tail. It has grayish-brown skin with a yellow underbelly, a dog-like head, and a body anywhere between 10 and 42 feet in length, according to people who claim to have seen the creature.

Similar to claims that Nessie is actually a plesiosaur, one popular theory contends that Storsjöodjuret is a leftover from prehistoric times. During the Ice Age, the story goes, the animal got trapped in the lake and survived to present day.

The legend of Storsjöodjuret is significant for its longevity. The earliest recorded mention dates back to 1635, when the vicar Morgens Pedersen immortalized the creature in a folktale that describes two trolls brewing a concoction that creates "a strange animal with a black serpentine body." In an 1878 sighting, a local mechanic reportedly saw something craning its neck past the water's surface. He described it as having a "snake-like head that was larger than what I figured the neck could support."

Over the years, hundreds of people have claimed to have spotted Storsjöodjuret in the lake. The mythical monster is so well-known in Sweden that in 1986, the Jämtland county administrative board declared Storsjöodjuret to be an endangered species. But its protected status was removed in 2005, so—as is the case with Bigfoot in Texas—hunting this hypothetical beast is technically fair game.

[h/t Mysterious Universe]