February 13, 2013
Bigfoot genetics study published in journal created for bigfoot genetics study.
According to the paper, a team of forensic scientists looked at 111 specimens of hair, blood, skin, and other tissues that were said to come from Bigfoot. The samples were gathered from 14 U.S. states and two provinces in Canada.
"We soon discovered that certain hair samples—which we would later identify as purported Sasquatch samples—had unique morphology distinguishing them from typical human and animal samples," says lead author Melba Ketchum from DNA Diagnostics. "Those hair samples that could not be identified as known animal or human were subsequently screened using DNA testing, beginning with sequencing of mitochondrial DNA followed by sequencing nuclear DNA to determine where these individuals fit in the 'tree of life.'"
Statue of Bigfoot at roadside attraction in Washington state, U.S. Photo by: Plazak.
"While the three Sasquatch nuclear genomes aligned well with one another and showed significant homology to human chromosome 11, the Sasquatch genomes were novel and fell well outside of known ancient hominin as well as ape sequences," says Ketchum. "Because some of the mtDNA haplogroups found in our Sasquatch samples originated as late as 13,000 years ago, we are hypothesizing that the Sasquatch are human hybrids, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens."
Ketchum has stated that the new species be given the name, Homo sapiens cognatus, or "blood relative" to Homo sapiens.
But it's likely that study will find little welcome in the scientific community, since it's been published in a scientific journal that Ketchum's team bought. In fact, Ketchum admits that the team acquired the rights to the journal before publication but says the paper was still "peer-reviewed," which in scientific parlance means reviewed by an independent committee of experts before publication.
"Rather than spend another five years just trying to find a journal to publish and hoping that decent, open minded reviewers would be chosen, we acquired the rights to this journal and renamed it so we would not lose the passing peer reviews that are expected by the public and the scientific community," Ketchum wrote on her website, which is currently off-line.
However Dr. Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University who runs the conservation non-profit Saving Species, said that believing in Bigfoot—i.e. a large hominin roaming North America undetected—denies the very basics of biology.
"Those who believe in Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and unicorns, have to overcome the inevitable requirements of sex," he told mongabay.com. "Any remaining individual needs two parents, four grandparents, eight grandparents, and so on, back to a population large enough to have been viable to persist long enough to remain genetically distinct species. For large bodied species, such populations must occupy considerable geographical space, making the chance that they would remain 'elusive' vanishingly improbable. Those who imagine the hundreds of Sasquatch needed to persist scattered across 14 States are, in effect, assuming a mode of reproduction alien to this planet."
Furthermore, Pimm points to indigenous people living in voluntary isolation in the much more remote Amazon rainforest, who despite small, wandering populations, still leave behind "abundant evidence of their presence."
A few notable scientists, including Jane Goodall, have stated they thought it was possible that some unknown, large-bodied primate lived in North America, however most dismiss the idea citing lack of physical evidence.
Every year, scientists name thousands of species unknown to science. But most are insects, with the bulk of those beetles. While a few mammals are discovered every year, these are almost always rodents and bats. When a new primate is discovered it invariably comes from the Amazon, Africa's rainforests, or Southeast Asia. There are no known primates in the U.S. or Canada.
CITATION: Ketchum MS, Wojtkiewicz PW, Watts AB, Spence DW, Holzenburg AK, Toler DG, Prychitko TM, Zhang F, Bollinger S, Shoulders R, Smith R. DeNovo. Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies. DeNovo Journal. 2013.
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