Meet Your Uncle Bigfoot: DNA Report Claims Beast Part Human
NBCNEWS.COM - Genetic testing confirms the
legendary Bigfoot is a human relative that arose some 15,000 years ago — at
least according to a press release issued by a company called DNA Diagnostics
detailing supposed work by a Texas veterinarian.
The report from Melba S. Ketchum also
suggests such cryptids had sex with modern human females that resulted in hairy
hominin hybrids, but the scientific community is dubious about her claim.
"A team of scientists can verify that their
five-year-long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of
a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called 'Bigfoot' or 'Sasquatch,' living
in North America," the release reads. "Researchers' extensive DNA sequencing
suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose
approximately 15,000 years ago."
For her study, Ketchum obtained three
"whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch
samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to
modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to
Homo sapiens and other primate species." (Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is the
DNA that resides in the cell's energy-producing structures, and is typically
passed down from mothers, while nuclear DNA, nuDNA, resides in the cells' nuclei
and is passed down from both parents to offspring.)
"Our data indicate
that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an
unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens," the statement reads.
Any proof? It's a fascinating
So where's the evidence? Well, there is
none. Not yet, anyway: Ketchum's research has not appeared in any peer-reviewed
scientific journal, and there's no indication when that might happen. If the
data are good and the science is sound, any reputable science journal would jump
at the chance to be the first to publish this groundbreaking information. Until
then, Ketchum has refused to let anyone else see her evidence.
Of course the history of Bigfoot
is rife with exaggerated and premature claims about proof of the
creature's existence. For decades, various types of evidence have been
offered as final, definitive proof, ranging from Bigfoot hair to blood to dead
bodies. Without exception, the evidence has always been a hoax,
misidentification or inconclusive.
Because Ketchum has released no information
at all about her findings (nor have they been examined by outside experts), it's
impossible to evaluate the validity of her conclusions. But an important clue
can be found in her statement that "Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo
If the mitochontrial DNA is identical to
Homo sapiens (i.e., modern humans), then this suggests one of two options. The
first, endorsed by Ketchum, is that Bigfoot ancestors had sex with women about
15,000 years ago and created a half-human hybrid species currently hiding across
There is, however, another, simpler
interpretation of such results: The samples were contaminated. Whatever the
sample originally was — Bigfoot, bear, human or something else — it's possible
that the people who collected and handled the specimens accidentally introduced
their DNA into the sample, which can easily occur with something as innocent as
a spit, sneeze or cough.
No one outside of Ketchum's team knows how this alleged
Bigfoot DNA was collected, from where or by whom. It could have been collected
by the world's top forensics experts, or by a pair of amateur Bigfoot buffs with
no evidence-gathering training.
Confirming it's Bigfoot How did
the team definitively determine that the samples were from a Bigfoot? Did they
take a blood or saliva sample from a living Bigfoot
? If so, how did they get that close, and why didn't they simply capture it
or photograph it? If the samples were found in the wild, how do they know it
wasn't left by another animal — or possibly even a hunter, hiker or camper who
left human genetic material?
Previous alleged Bigfoot samples subjected
to DNA analysis have been deemed "unknown" or "unidentified." However, "unknown"
or "unidentified" results do not mean "Bigfoot." There are many reasons why a
DNA sample might come back unknown, including that it was contaminated or too
degraded by environmental conditions. Or it could simply mean that the animal it
came from was not among the reference samples that the laboratory used for
comparison. There is no reference sample of Bigfoot DNA to
compare it with, so by definition, there cannot be a conclusive match.
Ketchum also issued a statement requesting
that the U.S. government immediately recognize Bigfoot as "an indigenous people
and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who
would see in their physical and cultural differences a 'license' to hunt, trap,
or kill them."
Since no Bigfoot has ever been hunted, trapped or killed, it's not clear that
the creatures — if they exist — require any special federal protection.
Ketchum's is not the only genetics-based
project intended to find Bigfoot. Earlier this year, researchers from Oxford
University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology announced they were collecting
samples of alleged Bigfoot
and Yeti hair for genetic identification. Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes
collected materials from the public from May through September, and is currently
conducting DNA analysis. Once the results are in, he plans to submit his results
to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
If Ketchum has the definitive proof she
claims, the world will soon know about it, and Bigfoot will be proven once and
for all. On the other hand, if the evidence never appears, or is inconclusive
and flawed, the search will continue.
Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and
author of six books, including Tracking
the Chupacabra and Scientific
Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His website is
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:43 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:43:51 GMT
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