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The Brosno Dragon. Source: Fergregory / Adobe.

The Brosno Dragon: The Loch Ness Monster’s Evil Russian Cousin?

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Most people are familiar with the legendary Loch Ness Monster – a mysterious cryptid said to lurk in the depth of Loch Ness in Scotland. The Brosno Dragon, which is also known as Brosnya, is a creature with eerily similar sightings and descriptions from Lake Brosno, West Russia.

Could there be truth behind the claims that the lake is inhabited by such an unbelievable creature? And if there is truth behind the claims, what could the creature be?

Lake Brosno

Lake Brosno, the purported home of the Brosno Dragon, is located in the Tver region of Russia. It is surrounded by eerie abandoned villages and crumbling houses. Although few people visit the lake, most note that it feels extremely isolated from civilization.

Few people visit Lake Brosno but those who do note that it feels extremely isolated from civilization. (Dan / Public Domain)

Few people visit Lake Brosno but those who do note that it feels extremely isolated from civilization. (Dan / Public Domain)

The lake itself is fairly deep (43 meters / 47 yards) and adding to the creepy feel of the place is a sunken church at one side, near an island. The difficulty in conducting underwater archaeological digs means that it has so far proved impossible to date the building and anyone who may have known about the church is now long gone.

There are a number of species of fish living in Brosno Lake including perch, pike, and burbot. Proponents of the Brosno Dragon site this as evidence there is more than enough food in the lake for a large creature to survive on.

The Legend of Brosnya

The Brosno Dragon may initially seem like a counterpart to Nessie, but sightings of this mythical creature date back much further, to the 13 th Century. It was said to have attacked and scared to death a group of Tatar-Mongol horsemen who were launching an attack on Russia. The legend has persisted ever since, with each new generation passing on the tale and adding their own sightings and stories.

One legend describes an enormous mouth opening in the lake to swallow fishermen and their boats whole. Another speaks of a group of Varangians (Vikings) who wanted to hide plundered gold and treasure in the lake – the dragon emerged from the lake and swallowed the island whole, thwarting their plans.

According to legend, the Brosno Dragon has swallowed fishermen and their boats whole. (fergregory / Adobe)

According to legend, the Brosno Dragon has swallowed fishermen and their boats whole. (fergregory / Adobe)

By the 19th Century the sightings have become less fanciful and rather than swallowing entire boats or islands, the Brosno Dragon was described as surfacing in the evenings but submerging if people approached it. Brosnya did return to form briefly in the 1940’s however, when it was said to have swallowed an entire German airplane.

Today, people local to the lake say the Brosno Dragon is responsible for capsizing boats and they blame it for several mysterious disappearances of people. The newspaper Karavan + Ya, local to the region of Lake Brosno, often reports on the legend and visits the lake hoping to capture the elusive creature on camera to share with the rest of the world.

What is the Brosno Dragon?

The Brosno Dragon earned its nickname as it has been described as looking like a dragon in legends for hundreds of years. But today it is just as likely the dragon would be described as a dinosaur – and just like the Loch Ness Monster, those who believe Brosnya really does dwell in the terrifying depths of Lake Brosno have theorized the dragon is actually a living dinosaur.

People who are more skeptical about the existence of the creature have attributed the hundreds of sightings over the years to a variety of alternatives. One suggestion is that the creature is not a dinosaur, or a dragon, but a mutant beaver. Another suggestion is that it is a huge and very old fish, which is abnormally large due to its age.

People who are skeptical about the creature believe the Brosno Dragon is a mutant fish or animal. (crimson / Adobe)

People who are skeptical about the creature believe the Brosno Dragon is a mutant fish or animal. (crimson / Adobe)

Dragon or Natural Phenomenon?

Although some people think the dragon could be an unidentified species, and others think it is an unusual or malformed example of a more mundane animal, there is one other option – that it is not an animal at all, but the result of a natural phenomenon.

The same issues which have made an underwater archaeological excavation at the lake impossible because although it is known there are fractures at the bottom of the lake, their exact depth and dimensions are unknown. There are some who believe one of the fractures hide a volcano, and if this is the case it could explain a lot of the legends of the Brosno Dragon.

A specific volcanic eruption which happens in bodies of water, called a limnic eruption, would release a cloud of deadly gas from the lake which could kill animals and people. The bubbling water may be misattributed to an unfamiliar creature below the surface and seeing any unsuspecting fishermen or invading Mongol armies succumb to the fumes and disappear under the water could easily have been attributed to a monster before phenomena such as this were understood.

Some people believe the Brosno Dragon is a mirage or an underwater volcanic eruption. (Jay Parker / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Some people believe the Brosno Dragon is a mirage or an underwater volcanic eruption. (Jay Parker / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Finally, it has been suggested that the Brosno Dragon is nothing more than a mirage. Many of the sightings in recent memory have been during the summer months, when mirages create optical illusions on the surface of the lake. This might seem more plausible than dragons or mutant beavers, but it is the explanation which leaves the most unanswered questions. If the Brosno Dragon is no more than a mirage, why are there so many reports of sailors being swallowed whole and people being terrified by a mere glimpse at the creature? It could even be considered patronizing to suggest that generations of people living locally all mistook a common optical phenomenon for a mysterious beast.

The Search for the Brosno Dragon

In the summer of 2002 scientists from the Kosmopoisk research association attempted to find out the truth behind the legend of the Brosno Dragon. The team conducted echo deep sounding and found that there was indeed an anomaly in the lake – a jelly like mass about the size of a railway cart which hovered around 5 meters (5.5 yards) from the bottom of the lake. However, further attempts to identify the mass proved unsuccessful.

The questions raised by the legends of the Brosno Dragon are very similar to questions about the Loch Ness Monster. If there is really a Brosno Dragon, is it a type of huge undocumented freshwater fish? Or a living dinosaur, whose species has managed to survive in this one specific location for millions of years? Is there more than one Brosno Dragon or has it survived on its own for hundreds of years, since the first recorded sightings in the 13 th Century?

But Brosno Lake is far more enigmatic than Loch Ness. The very location – in the unforgiving Russian wilderness and miles from civilization, is set aside and gives an otherworldly and desolate feel. The sunken church, which is too dangerous to explore and impossible to excavate, adds to its ambience. But it also lends credence to the theory a creature could be impossible to find or study properly – people know the church is there, they have reported seeing it and want to learn more about it, but it is impossible to do that. Until technology progresses further, both the church and the Brosno Dragon will keep their secrets and fascinate those few who find themselves at the lake.

Top image: The Brosno Dragon. Source: Fergregory / Adobe.

By Sarah P Young


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Hello Sarah,

I recognize what I'm about to say would never be accepted by Evolutionary Biologist, Geologists, and of course Paleontology suppose this animal by the description of the jaws it's mouth alone maybe Leo-Pleidons or Tylersaurus.

I heard from I think the science channel or Discovery Channel some Leo-Pleidons may have gotten as big anywhere from 70 to 80 feet in length; then there was Tylersaurus that one grew to 50 feet in length both of these two specific description of their mouths their Jaws sounds a lot like them even though Science says they were extinct.

This is what I think based on the creatures description they are.

Sarah P Young's picture

Sarah P

Sarah P Young is undertaking her masters in archaeology, specializing in early human behavior and in particular evidence of interaction between humans and Neanderthals. She hopes to continue her studies further and complete a doctorate.

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