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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Or not...Massive red flag: the scientist in question, Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, Texas, is making these big press release announcement before the study is peer-reviewed. Hmmm.. Why not have it peer-reviewed like any other serious scientific study? Hints: her story involves a hybrid mating between a Homo sapiens female and a previously unknown "male hominid", that occurred supposedly 15,000 years ago. the story involved blueberry bagels and angel DNA as well. I kid you not, my friends. 

There is an official press release from a DNA Diagnostics, Inc company, that I imagine carried out the sequencing analysis:

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

‘BIGFOOT’ DNA SEQUENCED IN UPCOMING GENETICS STUDY

Five-Year Genome Study Yields Evidence of Homo sapiens/Unknown Hominin Hybrid Species in North America


Contact: Robin Lynne, media@dnadiagnostics.com, 231.622.5362

DALLAS, Nov. 24--A team of scientists can verify that their 5-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. Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.

The study was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX. In response to recent interest in the study, Dr. Ketchum can confirm that her team has sequenced 3 complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and determined the species is a human hybrid:

“Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 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. 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.

Hominins are members of the taxonomic grouping Hominini, which includes all members of the genus Homo. Genetic testing has already ruled out Homo neanderthalis and the Denisova hominin as contributors to Sasquatch mtDNA or nuDNA. “The male progenitor that contributed the unknown sequence to this hybrid is unique as its DNA is more distantly removed from humans than other recently discovered hominins like the Denisovan individual,” explains Ketchum.

The rest can be read here, including Dr. Ketchum's appeals to the government to recognize Sasquatch as an indigenous people who deserve full constitutional rights.

Eric Berger critically analyzes the "study" in his blog, and humorously picks it apart. 

Like OMG! Scientists have sequenced Bigfoot DNA !!!!!!

Excerpts:

There are several significant issues with this. First is this line from the news release, “Full details of the study will be presented in the near future when the study manuscript publishes.”

That is a massive red flag. Real research scientists almost never pre-announce their research findings. That is, they don’t go public with big news until it has been vetted by peer reviewers and, at the very least, been accepted for publication. In this case Ketchum is stating a discovery as scientific fact before other scientists have studied her evidence. In effect she is using the mantle of science to confer credibility on her discovery, without actually deserving the credibility.

That’s a big no-no.

Ketchum, while indeed a scientist, does have credibility issues herself. Her company, DNA Diagnostics, gets an “F” from the Better Business Bureau, and has had more than two dozen complaints lodged against it.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Where do they get the DNA from?

Berger explains:

Some digging for this eventually led me to a blog post by Robert Lindsay discussing the source. Apparently the DNA comes from — I kid you not — blueberry bagel-loving Bigfeet in Michigan.

Ketchum’s spokesman seems to be Robin Lynne, a longtime Bigfoot habituator who lives in rural Michigan. She claims that there are up to 10 Bigfoots living around her property, and every day, she feeds them a variety of foods including Blueberry bagels, which they are particularly fond of. A lot of people have ridiculed her story, but according to information I have, there may indeed be Bigfoots on the property assuming some of the things she is relating are actually occurring.

For instance, one morning, Robin went out to her feeding box and found it locked! She heard noises inside, and when she opened it, the food was gone and there was an opossum inside!

She let the opossum out, but she was puzzled. Sure the possum could possibly have gotten into the box, but there is no way the possum could have gotten into the box and then locked the door to it afterwards. Shades of a locked room mystery here. Lynne concluded that the Bigfoots must have put the opossum into the box as a joke.

That’s conclusive evidence right there! I mean let’s completely dismiss the possibility that a human could have locked the feeding box. No, in this case, Occam’s Razor leads us to the conclusion that a Bigfoot must have locked it to play a trick on Lynne.

 

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I'll let you guys draw your own conclusions...I wonder if National Geographic or the Discovery Channel will be making a special on this nonsense.

My guess is that these are highly contaminated DNA samples from hairs or other stuff, mostly human samples, probably mixed with some other mammal (the "non-ape" in the sample. And that people who do not do how to analyze DNA are concluding that it comes from one animal instead of looking into contaminants. 

 

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From NBC News (I like that they point out the big red flags with this "study")


Karl Tate, LiveScience infographic artist
This is one artist's interpretation of Bigfoot. So where is the evidence that it exists? There is none yet.
By Benjamin Radford
updated 11/27/2012 12:18:13 PM ET

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. [ Infographic: Tracking Belief in Bigfoot ]

Any proof?
It's a fascinating theory.

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 Bigfootis 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 sapiens."

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 North America. [ Rumor or Reality: The Creatures of Cryptozoology ]

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.

Read the rest here.

I read this via a tweet I got on twitter. Thinking about it but you beat me to it Prof. but did a better job than I would have done. 

This reminds me I need to follow you on Twitter, what's your Twitter handle? :-)

I was wondering how my AU science buffs had missed it! I just found out. 

We'll have to wait for the peer review that is supposedly ongoing. As John Hawks points out, doing genomic research involves making the DNA sequences available to anyone or it can't be published (in serious journals of course), so sooner or later, either from the sequence or from the absence of transparency, we will know the truth. In the meantime, I'm hoping that they sequenced the genes behind developing a taste for blueberry bagels. Yuck! Bagels should be salty, not sweet :-)

Suspect Sasquatch Sequencing

Without publishing any data, a Texas-based forensic company claims to have sequenced the genome of Bigfoot.

By Beth Marie Mole | November 28, 2012

Flickr, Bob DoranWhat has proven harder to spot than a large, hairy, ape-like creature lurking in the woods? Data from a genetics study claiming to have sequenced the elusive Sasquatch. In a press release dated last week (November 24), the Texas-based forensic service DNA Diagnostics, Inc. claims they have “sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 whole nuclear genomes” from hair samples of a Sasquatch, which the company says it has been studying for the past 5 years. The aforementioned data, however, is “currently under peer-review” and under wraps, according to the release.

Despite a dubious dearth of details, the company further claims that Bigfoot is indeed a hairy human hybrid, having mitochondrial DNA—which is inherited from one’s mother—matching Homo sapiens, and both human and non-human nuclear DNA.

“Sasquatch nuclear DNA is incredibly novel and not at all what we had expected,” said veterinarian, DNA Diagnostics, Inc. director, and Bigfoot-enthusiast Melba Ketchum in the press release. “While it has human nuclear DNA within its genome, there are also distinctly non-human, non-archaic hominin, and non-ape sequences. We describe it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence.”

While scientists search for evidence to support the extraordinary claim, Ketchum advises that federal and local officials immediately establish protections for this newly identified indigenous people—just in case any of them finally decide to surface.

“Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry,” Ketchum said. “Government at all levels must recognize them 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.”

I mean let’s completely dismiss the possibility that a human could have locked the feeding box. No, in this case, Occam’s Razor leads us to the conclusion that a Bigfoot must have locked it to play a trick on Lynne.

Of course, if the place was teeming with Bigfeet, that's what Occam's Razor would suggest.

:-)

The curious thing here is that the official spokesperson of the DNA lab, identified on the press release as:

Contact: Robin Lynne, media@dnadiagnostics.com

is the exact same person that has a tribe of Sasquatches in her backyard. 

Yep. No comment is necessary. 

Wow.

And that Dr Ketchum is quite an interesting character in her own right. From The Robert Lindsay article:

Original Ketchum paper mentioned “angel DNA.” A source tells me that Wally Hersom has discussed the initial version of Ketchum’s paper. According to Hersom, the paper is very well written, but its conclusions are hard to take.

Ketchum writes that there are aspects of the Bigfoot nuclear subhuman DNA that she cannot find in any DNA database, and according to her, this means that the DNA is not of this Earth. In the paper, she reportedly refers to this as “angel DNA.” Whether she is trying to say that it is from angels literally or whether this is her way of saying that it’s from outer space, I do not know.

A little research on the Dr. yields this: She's involved in a US Patent evasion scheme with a Barbados lab. That lab handles the tests that are illegal in the US and furthers all other business to Ketchum. PDF  

This is interesting--what a shifty one she is.  (Bahamas, not Barbados, though.)

If I was to meet you Tuesday in the Bahamas, I might very well end up in Barbados on a Thursday =)

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