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Genetic Researcher: Bigfoot DNA tests prove its existence, awaiting to be peer-reviewed

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TWO ARTICLES BELOW

http://www.huffingto...slide=more22307

Bigfoot is real. At least that's what veterinarian Melba S. Ketchum claims after a five-year study of more than 100 DNA samples that she believes comes from the elusive hairy beast.

Under Ketchum's direction at DNA Diagnostics in Nacogdoches, Texas, a team of researchers has concluded that the creature may be a human relative that somehow developed around 15,000 years ago as a result of a hybrid cross between Homo sapiens with an unknown primate.

Ketchum's research has yet to stand the scrutiny of independent researchers. While many people have claimed to have seen the creature, its existence has never been confirmed, despite a plethora of photos and footprints. The ongoing search is the subject of Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" television series.

"Well, it came to me, I didn't go after it, that's for sure," Ketchum said of the evidence of Bigfoot's existence in an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post. "I did not believe in these creatures. But my lab did a lot of animal testing, and we did species identification. We didn't have any hits on anything interesting until five years ago."

Ketchum's professional work includes nearly 30 years in genetics research and forensics. After her team attempted DNA sequencing of hair samples from an alleged Bigfoot encounter, they found some unusual things in the hair. But there wasn't enough DNA to conclusively verify what they were seeing.

DNA Diagnostics received more samples to investigate -- including hair, blood, saliva and urine, all reportedly from various Bigfoot sightings.

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."

The overall results of Ketchum's study will soon be revealed, she said, after a peer-reviewed journal is published. But skeptic Benjamin Radford is dubious about the outcome of this latest attempt to give credibility to the existence of Bigfoot.

"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," Radford, the deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, wrote in LiveScience.com.

Radford suggests that if the mitochondrial DNA is identical to Homo sapiens (modern humans), it could mean one of two things.

"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.

"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," Radford wrote.

Not so, counters Ketchum.

"Early on, we started getting human results on the mitochondrial DNA -- that's maternally inherited and it can show where you're from," Ketchum said. "Different labs had already tested alleged Sasquatch samples, and all of these labs were getting human results, so they just threw it out.

"We split the samples with another forensic lab -- one worked on it manually while the other did it robotically, extracting the DNA -- and we ran several tests to confirm there was no contamination. And we ended up getting human sequences on many samples."

In LiveScience.com, Radford pointed out that since "There is no reference sample of Bigfoot DNA to compare it with, by definition, there cannot be a conclusive match."

Ketchum's work isn't the only ongoing research project aimed at trying to confirm, through DNA, the existence of Bigfoot.

In the U.K., researchers from Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology are examining alleged Bigfoot remains to test for unusual DNA. Their results will be submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

One theory about a possible explanation for Bigfoot or Sasquatch is that it could turn out to be a large primate called Gigantopithecus, 9-foot-tall apes that presumably went extinct around 100,000 years ago.

"My working hypothesis has always been that this is very likely Gigantopithecus extant -- that we have a species that's in the right place at the right time, the right size and some of the right characteristics in the form of Gigantopithecus in East Asia during the late Pleistocene [era] to have expanded into North America," said Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.

"It's not a matter of belief or wishful thinking -- it's a matter of the preponderance of the evidence, be it eyewitness accounts, footprints or hair that defies identification or attribution to known species," Meldrum told HuffPost.

"We're waiting for the results in studies that are ongoing, looking at potential DNA evidence -- DNA sequences extracted from samples of hair and blood and tissue. All of these things are the basis and motivation for undertaking this kind of approach," he said.

Meldrum, author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, is skeptical of most Bigfoot videos that show up on YouTube.

"In this day and age of cellphones, smartphones and Handycams, why aren't there more pictures? And there are, but it's also a testament to the fact that most people are lousy photographers, even if they're composed long enough to snap a picture in that brief instant of an encounter with something strange and unusual like this."

If a peer review of Ketchum's findings eventually confirms Bigfoot's existence to the satisfaction of the scientific community, she's adamant about what the next step should be.

"I’d like to see them have the same protections as any other human as far as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness, meaning that they be left alone and not put under a microscope, not hunted, not harassed, not chased through the woods -- leave them alone," she said. "They’ve existed for thousands of years this way and don’t need habitats set aside. They’ve lived under our noses all this time."

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Well, I hope for his sake he's right. Apparently these reviews are as tough as nails and if you're wrong then it's a blow to your credibility.

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Someone named Ketchum discovers a new species?

tumblr_mby4rqUTcv1qb9dbjo1_500.png

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It doesn't sound right to me. A group that split off from humans that recently and not subject to artificial selection wouldn't be so morphologically distinct. My guess is that this doesn't make it anywhere near a scientific journal as it gets torn apart at the peer review level.

It's extremely improbable that giant undiscovered primate lives in North America. There have to be a fair number of individuals to form a viable breeding population for large, long-lived mammals (likely numbered in the thousands at the minimum), and if there were that many, we WOULD have found a living or dead specimen by now. There's absolutely nothing in the fossil record, either.

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It doesn't sound right to me. A group that split off from humans that recently and not subject to artificial selection wouldn't be so morphologically distinct. My guess is that this doesn't make it anywhere near a scientific journal as it gets torn apart at the peer review level.

It's extremely improbable that giant undiscovered primate lives in North America. There have to be a fair number of individuals to form a viable breeding population for large, long-lived mammals (likely numbered in the thousands at the minimum), and if there were that many, we WOULD have found a living or dead specimen by now. There's absolutely nothing in the fossil record, either.

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Well I remember hearing that dead organisms have a hard time fossilizing in a boreal forest ecosystem due to decomposition rates or something. Plus, are there many groups looking for fossils up in the boreal forests? I always assumed it was too difficult to dig because of the trees.

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I'd like to think that Sasquatches roam around, but in 45 years this is the only footage? And no one is sure if it's real or a really good hoax.

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I understand the lousy picture thing...I was out for a walk a couple months ago and had a bear walk out of the bushes within 6 feet of me and as I was backing away I couldn't even compose myself to take a pic....although I had my son and dog with me, so that could have factored. But I'd imagine having a large ape walk out of the bushes at you would put you in alot of shock....I mean realistically, it's not something you'd ever expect to see let alone have a camera ready for...

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I understand the lousy picture thing...I was out for a walk a couple months ago and had a bear walk out of the bushes within 6 feet of me and as I was backing away I couldn't even compose myself to take a pic....although I had my son and dog with me, so that could have factored. But I'd imagine having a large ape walk out of the bushes at you would put you in alot of shock....I mean realistically, it's not something you'd ever expect to see let alone have a camera ready for...

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While my genetics background is still growing (current Genetics student) I will throw my opinion into this a bit.

For one thing, Dr. Ketchum is either taking a big risk to try and make a name for herself or she is sure of this. You don't just post peer reviewed article about anything. As one poster pointed out, this is your opinion on the line.

Now to the genetics part, it is really tough to say if she has a valid finding without reading her scientific research.

However, I am going to have to side with Dr. Radford on this one. Most likely the reason they are seeing this human DNA show up in this is because of contanimation. In order to properly sequence Genomes, you need to propely isolate the DNA. This requires many steps that all require careful santizing of many instruments in attempt to not get your own DNA or other mixed in.In this case, most likely the DNA samples being handed to Dr. Ketchum are not through proper DNA isolation and cross contanimation is most likely occuring. This would give you the human genomes showing up.

Say this is actually bear DNA they are isolating, this mixture would give them genomes of each I believe.

However, this article does not mention the procedures she uses or if cross checks them with bear with the isolation of human genomes removed. That could make a world of difference.

I don't think anyone can really make a proper conclusion without reading her journal.

I for one though, am of the opinion of Dr. Radford and that this is most likely the situation of sloppy science giving results that are quite unique.

And some other things posters have touched on. In the case of a proper population needing to sustain life of this species you could PERHAPS have a species survive on a very small population. However, this large of a creature would need constant food. He would be most likely top of the food chain, maybe right beside a bear (I am assuming Bigfoot is an omnivoire of course). A constant need for food would keep a population numbers low as it would take a lot of energy in order to obtain this food. Still, the population would still be high enough that it is so hard to believe that no one has had a 'proper' sighting.

I so want to believe that Bigfoot is real, I really do. I believed it all the way up into entering University. But biologically speaking, the chances of Bigfoot being real are very slim to none. Especially in North America, where good parts of it has some kind of human civilization at great levels.

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Well I remember hearing that dead organisms have a hard time fossilizing in a boreal forest ecosystem due to decomposition rates or something. Plus, are there many groups looking for fossils up in the boreal forests? I always assumed it was too difficult to dig because of the trees.

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TWO ARTICLES BELOW

http://www.huffingto...slide=more22307

Also http://newsfeed.time...foot-dna-tests/

Very interesting development.

Anyone with a science background, specifically with a genetic background that could add his or her input?

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Ms. Dr. Ketchum doesn't want to catch Bigfoot.

Ash Ketchum also doesn't like to catch Pokemon.

Coincidence? I think not.

I just saw the rest of the Time article and it is a rather unflattering article for Ketchum.

Sigh.

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Good point, but you'd think a professional photographer or cameraman would have caught another picture or video footage?

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They're most likely going to call bullish*t on this one. I want to be a believer, but this is one of those things that cannot be proven.

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