Friday, November 30, 2012

Bigfoot DNA Sequenced?

For years, bigfoot hunters have been gathering samples of biological material that they believe come from the elusive creature. Ever since the advent of DNA testing technology, cryptozoologists have also been claiming that they're about to sequence DNA from the samples and prove that the Sasquatch is a real animal - and then are never heard from in the media again. Finally, Texas veterinarian Melba Ketchum claims to have done it, and that her results prove the Sasquatch is an ape/human hybrid.

Ketchum's team consists of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology. The researcher said she believes that over the past five years, the team has successfully found three Sasquatch nuclear genomes -- an organism's hereditary code -- leading them to suggest that the animal is real and a human hybrid.

Ketchum's study showed that part of the DNA her team sequenced revealed an unknown primate species, she said, which suggests that Bigfoot is a real creature that resulted from this primate "crossing with female Homo sapiens."

"They're not any of the large apes -- they branch off as a separate lineage," Ketchum said. "My personal theory is that it probably branched off and evolved in parallel with the rest of the primate lineage."

Ketchum claims that the creature is a part-human hybrid based on the presence of human mitochondrial DNA in the samples in combination with nuclear DNA from what she claims is an unknown primate species. However, as skeptic Benjamin Radford points out in the same article, it could very well be that the samples come from humans and the nuclear DNA is simply contaminated. Ketchum disputes this, but as there's no reference sample with which to compare bigfoot DNA the conclusion that the nuclear DNA is from an unknown species is difficult to support even if it's true.

I would like to be able to accept Ketchum's findings, but there's one big problem with her conclusions. If the "unknown species" appears to have evolved independently of other large apes how could a human have successfully mated with one? At this point genetic researchers are fairly certain that humans cannot interbreed with chimpanzees, and it sounds like they're more similar to humans than this "unknown species" would be. Furthermore, there's no evidence that any large apes lived in North America 15,000 years ago, which is when the crossbreeding that produced Sasquatch supposedly occurred.

At least now I have an idea of why all those other genetic sequencing efforts never succeeded - the DNA kept coming up human. My suspicion is that after peer review and subsequent study Ketchum's samples will as well. However, if her findings turn out to be accurate and ape/human hybrids are actually running around modern-day North America I'll be sure to keep you all posted.

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Unknown said...

Dr. Ketchum doesn't have a son named Ash, does she? Dude could made a career out of catching a live one.

Scott Stenwick said...

It's a little like that Amish hair-cutter named Mullet, isn't it?

One of the most unfortunate names in the bigfoot-hunting world is that of the founder of BFRO (Bigfoot Field Research Organization), Matt Moneymaker. That really is his birth name - he didn't change it or anything. The trouble is, there have been so many frauds perpetrated involving bigfoot that many people assume anything related run by a guy named Moneymaker has to be a scam.

It should also be noted that BFRO is as far as I can tell more serious and legitimate than most cryptozoology organizations, and it certainly has never made any money.