It’s been a busy week in Sasquatchery. As we reported on Saturday, a press release was issued officially by Dr. Melba Ketchum’s DNA Diagnostics announcing the study she completed which is awaiting publication regarding the collection and analysis of supposedly Bigfoot DNA.
Since then, many outlets have picked up the story, several have used our story as a source and it has also been distributed on Bigfoot blogs and forums. Naturally, there are clearly extremes on the issues – the believers who think this is one of cryptozoology’s finest hours and the cynics who laugh and joke. Doubtful News is not going to be either of those.
This is a genuine opportunity to shine some scientific rigor on the question of Bigfoot. This story is a good summary of the situation as it stands right now.
The whole Sasquatch thing may be moving from the realm of the weird to the level of “truth is stranger than fiction.”
That will depend on how mainstream science responds to the impending release of a five-year DNA study apparently suggesting Sasquatch exists, and is not entirely human and not entirely non-human. It is, says the study’s author, a hybrid cross of the two.
The research was done by a team led by Melba Ketchum, a former veterinarian who moved into genetic research 27 years ago and runs DNA Diagnostics, Inc., based in Texas. Ketchum had hoped to see the results announced in a peer-reviewed scientific journal but they were “outed” last Friday by a note on the website of the Russia-based International Center of Hominology.
It describes how the study results were leaked by Igor Burtsev, Melba then issued the official word, but the paper is still pending in press. Not all has gone well since then, as you might anticipate. Some commenters have been horrid towards Dr. Ketchum and the entire field of Bigfootery. Some comments have been unnecessarily harsh to skeptics who have a problem with the way this potentially blockbuster news has been handled.
A few things have come up since the story broke. When there was mention of “unknown” DNA, it suddenly got labeled as “angel DNA” making this into even more of a joke. Dr. Ketchum says she never said that. The source of this label has been one “reporter”, R. Lindsay, who has continually “leaked” faulty information from unnamed sources to Bigfoot blogs and some have dutifully publicized it. There was news that Ketchum’s spokesperson was a woman who went public over a year ago announcing that a family of Bigfoot is living in her backyard. (She is mentioned and comments here.) But, according to Ben Radford, he was contacted by a different PR person for Melba.
Dr. Ketchum’s reputation is questioned based on the poor ratings for her business DNA Diagnostics and her past Facebook updates claiming she has seen and interacted with the creatures herself. She not only believes she has Bigfoot DNA, she believes she has encountered the live beings as well.
The Yakima Herald article says the study’s suspected conclusions, that Bigfoot is a “tribe” of humans has “ignited a war” with those who think Bigfoot is more ape than human. That’s an exaggeration. The dispute has been more about if any of use should trust the samples submitted of Bigfoot DNA, how they were obtained and what to think about all the various parties involved. The study is shrouded in official secrecy including the coauthors with Ketchum.
Already people are suggesting that the samples show human genetic signatures because they were contaminated by the humans that collected them. It’s easy to contaminate samples and that would provide a simpler explanation than a new species of human-like animal we’ve been missing from various lines of inquiry all these centuries.
We continue to wait (scientific papers do take a long time to get through the peer review and publication process – 12 months is not uncommon) to see what the paper says and allow experts in genetics to opine on what it all means. Until then, the hype and snickering will undoubtedly continue.