Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data.

No, a paper has NOT yet been released with the results but because Igor Burtsev spilled the beans earlier (he was VERY excited) in the press, Dr. Melba Ketchum has issued a press release regarding the results of the DNA study that she led that has been in process for 5 years.

Bigfoot News | Bigfoot Lunch Club.

From the press release:

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.

Frame capture from the Patterson Gimlin film. To date, the most discussed piece of Bigfoot evidence.

So, the claim is that, genetically, Sasquatch/Bigfoot is a human hybrid. Dr. Ketchum remarks that they must be recognized and protected as indigenous people.

What is wrong with story? Oh, where to begin…

We don’t know who the team of scientists is. Melba has been silent. The collected data is suspect, the analysis is suspect, the conclusions are suspect. EVERYTHING is suspect because there is no data for anyone else to examine, the procedure and results have not yet been published and there is NO OTHER reliable physical evidence, traces or history of such an indigenous people.

To make such an extraordinary claim is to put yourself out on such a long, unstable limb! It is not how science is done, it’s how pseudoscience is done. But, let’s just say that Dr. K has results and is confident in them. She sure is in a pickle now because there is still NO paper and no hint of when or where it will be published. Much is going on behind the scenes that the interested public is not privy to. To be practical, this announcement gets us absolutely NO further to a Bigfoot discovery than yesterday or the day before. It’s still vaporware. No paper, no data, no body, no Bigfoot.

As a background, this is a long and horribly confusing and ridiculous story about how and from whom the samples were collected, who is leaking info to whom, Melba’s encounters with a family of Bigfoots, firing of publicists, rumors of publishing in Nature, promises, promises, promises… All of that will be WIPED away if only there is produced actual solid evidence of the incredible claims. The current attitude of many Bigfooters is extreme skepticism of Dr. K’s claims. It’s just been too weird of a trip. It’s also been highly unprofessional the way the whole story has played out. And so this press release continues that trend.

Still waiting…

More news pieces from us on this story and what has shaped up to be a competing DNA project by Bryan Sykes, can be found here.

UPDATE (26-Nov-2012) There has understandably been some scientific interest in this announcement. It had many scratching their heads. They have begun to wade into the Ketchum study circus just now are discovering the long history of the project. They also have made some interesting observations. See this summary of comment clips.

  42 comments for “Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data.

  1. Kitty Lapin Agile
    November 24, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    I didn’t think we would hear from her again. Seriously, if a real Science journal publishes this, and Bigfoot is truly real, I’ll be the first one throwing a “Give Bigfoot the Right To Vote and Other Rights” party. This “Just wait.. any moment…” isn’t how science is done.

  2. drwfishesman
    November 24, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    That’s confusing. I saw this article back in October implying that Ketchum’s lab has been shut down.

  3. November 24, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Sasquatch is a hybrid of modern humans and an unknown primate? Such as what? Anything close enough to interbreed with modern-type humans had to be closely related and nothing has been found that would give such a result. Modern-type humans interbred with Neandertals and the latter were absorbed as were the Denisovans. Even if Homo Erectus could interbreed with modern-type humans, and I think that may well have been possible, neither lineage was eight feet tall and without cuture.

  4. Massachusetts
    November 24, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Yes Busterggi, all the known fossil hominins that existed in the recent paleolithic have been much more human than ape in appearance–pretty darn close to us from the neck down, and not THAT different from the neck up really. Homo erectus was not an exception to that observation I’d say.

    As for possible unknown ones, since they are unknown we can’t know anything about them and can’t just assume they existed, clearly. Also, if they existed, and still do in some form, you wouldn’t expect them to be nearly impossible to photograph on trail cams and such. Of course, there’s always the chance that something escaped notice or was misidentified in the fossil record of course, but that slim possibility certainly isn’t evidence to bolster these claims.

    This interbreeding scenario strikes me as quite bizarre, reminiscent of the old pulp fiction stories of apes carrying women off into the jungle. Actually there was an H.P. Lovecraft story about a civilization that interbred with a large non-human primate species, which was most likely, and sadly, inspired by the author’s racist fears of miscegenation (probably the same issue with the other stories of this ilk.)

  5. Massachsuetts
    November 24, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    This is all about work she did, at least allegedly, before such a closing, I think.

  6. Scott Hamilton
    November 24, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    And apparently her lab wasn’t doing much of the work… She was apparently mostly just farming her paying projects to other, better labs and trying to make money by stiffing those other labs. So this Bigfoot work may have been done by another lab. In either case, her results won’t scream “we are credibile!”

  7. Scott Hamilton
    November 24, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Just to be clear, Neanderthals weren’t absorbed into Sapiens. They remained a morphologically and geographically distinct group right up to their extinction. There was a small amount of interbreeding, as recent genome studies have shown, but it was a VERY small amount compared to the thousands of years Sapiens and Neanderthals cohabited in Europe. While physically able to breed, the two groups simply didn’t the vast majority of the time, suggesting there were insurmountable cultural differences that kept them apart. (To put this in perspective, when Cook’s expedition landed on any island in the South Pacific a bunch of fair-haired children tended to be born 9 months later. Most of these island cultures were into practices Europeans found abhorrent, including lip-plates and extreme tattooing, but the sailors got over it in days, not thousands of years.)

    And this is why I can’t take Burtzev seriously as a anthropologist/hominidologist or whatever he claims to be. His pet theory is that Yeti/Sasquatch is the transitory stage between Neanderthals and Sapiens. That’s why he highlights the “European/Middle Eastern human” part of what Ketchem is saying: that’s where Neanderthals developed. But Sapiens first emerged in Africa, and Neanderthals have never been found on that continent, therefore there is NO transition between Neanderthals and Sapiens. There’s no direct lineage between the two species, except for the aforementioned low level of interbreeding that happened much later when they both lived in Europe. This is real Anthropology 101 stuff, and I can’t imagine how a real doctor of this subject could be so ignorant of it.

  8. idoubtit
    November 24, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Yes, I’ve known about that. Dr. K’s reputation is really messed up on this front. I’ve been doing some research for a writeup on this whole scenario. Her lab never got a good rating, had problems with customers. This entire 5 year project has been RIDDLED with shady characters in and out of the story, leaks by less than reputable characters and a cloak of secrecy.

    This is not how professionals work. It’s been a joke. That is why I can’t imagine that no matter WHAT the data says, it’s going to be a VERY hard slog to convince anyone she has quality stuff and her conclusions are warranted.

  9. November 24, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    This story is fascinating to me, but probably not fascinating in the same way that a bigfoot enthusiast may think of it. It’s so bizarre that maybe after the dust has cleared, someone ought to make a movie about it. It could serve as a cautionary tale about bad science.

  10. spookyparadigm
    November 24, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    I was not aware that Burtzev specifically held that notion. My working assumption had been, once I heard about the Middle East angle, that we were about to see something more like Lloyd Pye’s notion (one I’ve seen elsewhere) of Bigfoot as evidence of alien tampering with human genetics, and the shallow time frame and Middle Eastern setting would then tie this all into Nephilim giants/Enkidu.

    I don’t know if that is Melba’s ideology, but that’s where this will be going.

  11. spookyparadigm
    November 24, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    BTW, you realize that as DN is now becoming a recognized source to places like BB and io9, this has become a link in the chain to this being a story. I think it is going to get out beyond the community, but just be aware of that.

  12. spookyparadigm
    November 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    And BTW, I think this is the beginning of the end of Bigfootery.

  13. idoubtit
    November 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Yes, I anticipate that. While I really do not enjoy posting this as news, I’d rather it come out on a skeptical site. There is really no good reason for anyone else to frequent Bigfoot news sites since I will do it for you. You’re welcome. 😛

  14. Chipshotz
    November 24, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Sorry about the non-comment but I LOL’d at “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.”

  15. cactusren
    November 25, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    Sounds like their samples are contaminated with human DNA, and they can’t identify the rest. I’d be very surprised if they can find a legitimate journal that will publish this.

  16. Anon
    November 25, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    With your background into the psychology of these people, I’m hoping you can explain why is it that Bigfooters like Guy Edwards are now rushing to distance themselves from Ketchum’s study (I looked for myself–sorry). It can’t be this problem with her reputation alone? They’ve been anxiously awaiting it for such a long time, and they’re usually so quick to accept much crazier “evidence.” All I can imagine is that some of them seem threatened by the possibility that their favorite theories–gigantopithecus, ghost/alien/interdimensional bigfoot, etc–might be ruled out, but it doesn’t seem like enough by itself. As for giving skeptics more ammunition, again, they’re quite forgiving of other “experts” with no credentials whatsoever.

  17. Anon
    November 25, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    Please elaborate!

  18. Anon
    November 25, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Bizarre, maybe, but it is a commonly accepted article of faith (“theory” as they call them) among Bigfooters that Bigfoot likes to kidnap people for interbreeding. See, eg,

    I also think your comment about Lovecraft’s fears is completely relevant.

  19. spookyparadigm
    November 25, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Well that took all of what, three hours?

    Rumors (RL style) of “Angel DNA” in Ketchum’s study

  20. Am_Sci
    November 25, 2012 at 4:51 AM

    I wouldn’t bet on that. The popularity of Bigfoot will continue to wax and wane for years to come. Until the general public ceases to accept the validity of eye witness accounts as evidence, that is. Or, perhaps an improvement in biological education will help people understand why bigfoot’s existence is so unlikely.

  21. Bob
    November 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    My first problem is that the study was done in Nacogdoches

    In 1912, the Marx Brothers came to town to perform their singing act at the old Opera House (now the SFA Cole Art Center). Their performance was interrupted by a man who came inside shouting, “Runaway mule!” Most of the audience left the building, apparently thinking a runaway mule would provide better entertainment. When they filed back in, Julius (later known as Groucho) began insulting them, saying “Nacogdoches is full of roaches!” and “The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass!” Instead of becoming angry, audience members laughed. Soon afterward, Julius and his brothers decided to try their hand at comedy instead of singing, at which they had barely managed to scrape together a living. A historic plaque commemorating the event is posted in downtown Nacogdoches. Given the location of this formative experience, the Brothers’ later decision, during the making of Duck Soup, to name the imaginary country “Freedonia” hardly seems coincidental. In the 8th March 1950 edition of You Bet Your Life Groucho states “I was once pinched in Nacogdoches for playing Euchre on the front porch of a hotel. It happened to be on a Sunday. You’re not allowed to play Euchre in Nacogdoches on a Sunday. As a matter of fact, the way I played it they shouldn’t have allowed it on Saturday either.”

  22. idoubtit
    November 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Oh brother!

  23. idoubtit
    November 25, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Ick.Not a fan of Bigfoot Evidence. Every piece of ridiculous crap is reported on that blog. I would not use it as a source, especially considering that one is referencing Robert Lindsay. Let’s try to not link to bad sites.

  24. idoubtit
    November 25, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    OH. MY. This is the lady that is her spokesperson? She has visited here before along with Burtsev.

    This just keeps getting more insane by the day.

  25. Sean Elliott
    November 25, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I agree that this signals less acceptance for Bigfoot. How can anyone take Ketchum’s work seriously if there is “Angel DNA” or a suggestion of of tampering with DNA by some outside agency? Lets not forget she has shown photos of “stick structures” made by Sasquatch, claims to have interacted with a family of them, and says they like to braid the manes of horses. Stupefying.
    Consider the problems with the Patterson film, all of Paul Freeman’s findings, Jerry Crew’s print cast ( he worked for Ray Wallace!) , Ivan Marx association with the cripple foot tracks, and you have nothing but fabrication and eyewitness testimony, which is notoriously suspect. The case for Bigfoot is not getting better, it is getting worse!

  26. idoubtit
    November 25, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    And that is telling! A body of knowledge should be getting better. Same goes for so called ghost investigators.

  27. spookyparadigm
    November 25, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    I’ve mentioned this in other long comments here before (If I could remember on which posts or if Sharon knows how to search comments, I’d be happy to repost it), so I’m not going to totally go into details of my thinking on this. But simply put, as half-arsed as this is, DNA is becoming the Roswell of Bigfootery, the great proof. In ufology, it took crashed saucers a while to percolate (brief interest at the beginning of the phenomenon, then kiboshed due to a hoax, picked up again when the political climate made sense in the late 1970s, and when it was a reaction to changes in ufology), but they finally did in a swirl of conspiracy theory in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was also, and partly the cause of, the media grabbing hold of UFOs in a way they hadn’t since the 1970s or even the 1950s. The X-Files heyday, which was not just because of that show. And ufology banked everything, publicly, on Roswell. And when Roswell slumped under the scrutiny (to be sure, there are still true believers, but not like there were 15-20 years ago), as well as other developments, this kind of did in traditional ufology. What was left was increasingly either tied to New Age theosophical mysticism or conspiracy theory (a strong subsection being the exopolitics/disclosure movement) or both in the form of David Icke, and the implosion of abductionism has started to damage even those.

    Ufology set itself up to have physical evidence that could be tested, and the hypothesis was more or less falsified.

    This is what is happening in Bigfootery. It has been more and more in the public eye, especially with the idea of physical evidence, since the Georgia Bigfoot in a Freezer scam. That’s what led to it being all over TV, in the pop culture again, and so on. This new found interest has, in turn, pushed people to think they could become famous/rich off it, hence all the idiocy that’s been bubbling up over the topic in the last few years. And now a physical evidence hypothesis has been proposed, DNA testing. And it is getting more scrutiny. With just a press release, Ketchum is for the moment just telling tales, tales no different than her discussion of hanging out with hair-braiding bigfoot families. And her press release suggests the supremacy of the weirder elements of Bigfootery, the hybrid folks, the habituation and contactee folks, the Nephilim folks, and so on. They’ve been puttering around ever stronger in the background of Bigfootery for years, but no one in pop culture was aware of them.

    So now, the stage is set for Bigfootery to go through what ufology went through with abduction and Roswell: popularity, and then dismissal. If the hybrid/habituation/etc. folks get the attention they want, it is going to allow people to make fun of this topic in the same way that if you say “probed” people make fun of UFOs and abduction after Whitley Strieber’s book. And they are setting up a physical test, and so far being standard pseudoscience about it (not done through standard scientific procedures but by press release only, involving shady characters and bizarre ideologies, and so on). And even worse, they’ve inspired a project by actual credentialed scientists to do the same. Now who knows, maybe Sykes and co. will find something, or say they did (but they will likely actually put their data out there). More likely, they may find some inconclusives, just as have been found before, which will make the believers somewhat happy (but infuriate the true hybrid etc. believers), but will disappoint the larger public. A public that will then get a dose of the weirder ideologies, a public that had previously assumed this was just about an ape in the woods (the stock interpretation demonstrated on Finding Bigfoot, for example). And some will embrace it as part of other mystical ideologies, but many more will go “yeah, I don’t know about that.”

    And that will be that. It won’t kill off the notion. After all, there are still people that believe in fairies. But it will vastly diminish popular interest in it as it becomes a weird topic tied into weirder topics, rather than a charming mystery vaguely related to science.

    And if you don’t think such a physical hypothesis testing can kill a legend, I’ve got three words for you (I think it was three): Operation Deep Scan. When the heavily media watched Operation Deep Scan did a full sweep of Loch Ness in the late 1980s, that combined with the declaration that the Surgeon’s Photo of Nessie was a hoax, largely killed belief in the Loch Ness Monster. Oh sure, people still go to see it. And there are people who still believe in it and similar creatures. But that legend is all but moribund, a shadow of its former self, and clearly now kin to fairies. Even those who still try to resurrect the creature now turn to things like large catfish or eels rather than the wondrous plesiosaur. See also how the persistent claiming of mangy dogs as chupacabras has taken the wind out of those sails.

  28. oldebabe
    November 25, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Another unbelievable story. Will it ever end?

    What is this DNA that is the origin of all this brouhaha and now being used as the basis for all the continuing nonsense? Or am I just not reading it right? Where did it come from? How did they acquire this `DNA’ – scratched a Bigfoot? – found some unidentified stuff?

    Where it started, should be where it ends; tho it seems, like the Loch Ness monster, the ongoing myths of Bigfoots are here to stay.

  29. idoubtit
    November 25, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    It’s origins are many and varied. Several people sent in samples from all over the world. But, as you suggest, the doubt starts at square one. Where did it come from? How do we know it’s worth anything? Currently, we know nothing about it that isn’t doubtful for many reasons.

  30. R.D.W
    November 25, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Gigantipithecus (Misspelled) would have matched a general description of a Big foot, and there is at least one fossil specimen from China, and it’s not clear when that particular creature died out, however, this hybrid that is claimed sounds like an impossibility, genetically. I hope that doesn’t sound to “Pro-Bigfoot”, as I’m a skeptic in this matter (Duh), but just to keep an open mind, SOME Humans, at SOME point in history might have seen an actual creature that fit the description, generally, of a Bigfoot. I just doubt seriously that none of those who claim they have ever could have.

  31. spookyparadigm
    November 25, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    The Gigantopithecus idea is flawed because all the best evidence we have suggests a large ape (one whose size might have been over-estimated) perhaps similar to an orangutan but with a diet more like a panda, and perhaps a lifestyle similar to one. The notion that it was bipedal is based on poor interpretation (we only have teeth and a bit of jaw, and yet bipdeal?) by Grover Krantz, who suggested it specifically as part of his campaign to link Bigfoot and Gigantopithecus. Check out David Daegling’s book Bigfoot Exposed (Daegling is a physical anthropologist, btw) who talks about this, as well as numerous other issues with Bigfoot evidence, as well as the development of the legend as a result of culture contact and appropriation of native stories (the native stories of sometimes other people sometimes cannibal giants always with mystical powers do not resemble much the white settler stories of dangerous creatures at the turn of the 20th century, which in turn do not resemble much the stories of 1958 on Bigfoot as gentle giant, though the gentle giant meme is slowly being replaced by bigfoot the rapist and/or wise superhuman remnant of a forbidden human history out of tune with mainstream evolutionary thought).

  32. November 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    I agree.

  33. Kev
    November 25, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Waitaminute. I’m no expert in genetics, but aren’t hybrids (like mules) incapable of reproducing?
    And so are we to believe that this single Bigfoot is 15000 years old?
    And, what, did he walk across the Bering land bridge to get from where his Asian mother gave birth to him, to get to North America?
    Yeah, every claim stretches the imagination even more…

  34. Anon
    November 25, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    In my own defense, I think it’s exactly the kind of crap we’ll be hearing very shortly. But I hope you’ll pardon me in any case, since you’ve been friendly with Guy on this very site in the not-so-distant past.

  35. Anon
    November 25, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Ah, mixing up my crap sites on the second part there. Sorry, Guy, I don’t like your site, either, but Bigfoot Evidence truly is the worst.

  36. Am_Sci
    November 25, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    Not necessarily. Humans and Neanderthals produced fertile offspring, for example. I also read something about grizzly bears and polar bears interbreeding with fertile offspring.

  37. F89
    November 25, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Angel DNA? When did this start being “discovered” ? (not just here, but in general) I tried reading the article…while it was well written, the responses made me remember why I don’t frequent that site.

  38. F89
    November 25, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Last November in a Doubtful News article, NABS was quoted as stating “…we developed a theory of how to subtly take hair off the biped without causing injury and to continue to take their hair without them knowing it was occurring, it worked. It has worked dozens of times in several states across North America. Our system involved getting the root with the hair, as a bigfoot hair without a root is useless for DNA extraction.”
    Which again brings up the question-close enough to get hairs with roots,but no good pictures?

  39. idoubtit
    November 25, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Never read unmodded comments.

  40. Procyon
    November 26, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    I think more likely about human ego or possibly psycho -pathology than bad science.

  41. David Fullam
    November 26, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    What irks me is the DNA “evidence.” What is it, where did it come from, and how the heck do they know it comes from a “Bigfoot?” I feel this is nothing more than a scam and publicity stunt.

  42. Ray
    December 5, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    As long as there’s cable TV there’ll always be Bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts, etc.

Comments are closed.