Homo sapiens cognatus posited as new name for Bigfoot

Dr. Melba Ketchum has registered the name Homo sapiens cognatus to Zoo Bank. But what does that mean?

From: ZooBank.org.

Homo sapiens cognatus Ketchum in Ketchum, Wojtkiewicz, Watts, Spence, Holzenburg, Tolar, Prychitko, Zhang, Bollinger, Shoulders & Smith, 2013

The request was made November 18, 2012 and was just recently accepted in Nomenclatural Acts on the website that registers official names of organisms for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. So, is this the new name of Bigfoot? Not so fast…

Dr. Ari Grossman, Associate Professor of Anatomy at Midwestern University, tells Doubtful News the main problem is that there is no formal differential diagnosis, type specimen, or designated location of a type specimen to verify the organism named. While electronic journals may be cited for ICZN registration, Ketchum’s self-publication in this case leaves the registered name Homo sapiens cognatus open to challenge.

“A case can be presented to the ICZN, and they can investigate and decide to keep or deny the name and publication,” Dr. Grossman explains. In addition to the problems mentioned above, “The sample sources appear to be of dubious origin and cannot be substantiated or recollected (that is, no possible repeatability of the tests)”. Dr. Grossman contends that a challenge to remove the name may succeed based on these weaknesses.

Paolo Viscardi, Curator of Natural History at Horniman Museum in London, agrees saying this is a species description rather than a systematic treatment. “[This registration] does not conform to the basic rules of taxonomy.” No one else can verify the results because there is nothing to examine. Viscardi adds, “It’s not science because it’s not falsifiable – at least until type material is lodged and the specimen that the description is based on can be properly assessed independently and verified in an appropriate publication. At best it is a putative subspecies proposal with flimsy justification.”

So, it certainly looks like self-publishing, the methods and the shaky conclusion is certainly going to bite back. But, the project results are available to the public now at the Sasquatch Genome Project site. Ketchum’s new website, which looks just as unprofessional and awful-looking as her old site, has her new title as “world renowned veterinarian” and “Self-Taught Geneticist”.

She does seems to be aiming to elbow Dr. Sykes out of the spotlight this week with her announcements. And, once again, she looks… unscientific. I’m sorry, this is JUST so awful. The way this whole project has played out is certainly the main reason why even Bigfoot proponents just can’t give this any respect.

For more, see my chronology of the Ketchum project history here.

Screen shot from Ketchum's new website

Screen shot from Ketchum’s new website

UPDATE (25-Oct-2013) See comments about hacking and my opinion on that.

Here is a copy of the “Press Room” page [PDF] that I saved when I accessed the site when composing this post. It provides details of the journal rejection. Does this look hacked? I don’t know. I say it looks Robynized.

  36 comments for “Homo sapiens cognatus posited as new name for Bigfoot

  1. Bob
    October 24, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    The new website is just pathetic. Wow. Almost feel bad for them. Almost.

  2. October 24, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Hah! Can’t rename a species already named – its Homo pongoidis according to Heuvalmanns and he had a type speciman (sorta).

  3. Torkel Ødegård
    October 24, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Advanced Science Foundation? REALLY?!

    And what’s up with that incrediby pixelated profile picture?

  4. Eve
    October 24, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    She’s so blurry she could BE Bigfoot.

  5. Blargh
    October 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    And what’s up with that incrediby pixelated profile picture?

    Blurry and pixelated is the only kind of photo professional Bigfoot hunters know.

  6. Blargh
    October 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    The only good thing about that godawful website is the accidental honesty in the caption for image #2:

    “We were never able to pass peer review due to scientific basis and potential government cover-ups.”

    (emphasis added)

  7. Chris Howard
    October 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    What a coincidence! I’m a self-taught neurosurgeon.

    I thought it was going to be a topic requiring intense focus due to the high level of abstract concepts; a difficult subject, riddled with subtle, complex, nuance that would require years of study, and still further years of practice just to become even moderately proficient.

    Turns out all you have to do is read “Neurosurgery for Dunmies” and you too can be just say good as any board certified surgeon, and as knowledgable as Dr. Novella!

    Self-taught geneticist? Please.

  8. One Eyed Jack
    October 24, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I’m Reese Bobby, semi-professional race car driver and amateur tattoo artist…. oh, and self-taught geneticist.

  9. Russell G.
    October 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    That site wouldn’t load for me; I just got a white screen.
    What a terrible photo! That photo of Ketchum reminds me of the photos used by David Icke’s fans on Youtube videos to “prove” that people are shape-shifting aliens. I have much clearer photos of my ancestors from the 19th century.

  10. Chris Howard
    October 24, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    I always love this one:

    “We were never able to pass peer review due to scientific basis and potential government cover-ups.”

    To which I always ask “What good evidence do you have that there’s been bias and a cover-up?”

    The reply is usually a blank stare.

    It could NEVER be because THEIR work was sloppy, and chock full of flaws. It could NEVER be because THEIR premise is wrong. It’s ALWAYS someone, or something else’s fault when it comes to THEIR lack of evidence.

    Zero responsibility for your errors means less respect from your peers. Not more.

  11. spookyparadigm
    October 24, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    I am of the opinion that paranormal belief systems eventually build up to a test case, a set of conditions that could actually, even in the popular mind, falsify them out of pseudoscience (they can still be believed by a purely paranormal-thinking crowd).

    The Loch Ness Monster hit this with the 1-2 punch of Operation Deepscan and the exposure of the Surgeon’s Photo as a hoax.

    UFOs hit this by pinning everything on Roswell, which then fizzled.

    Parapsychology hit this with the lack of impressive results from Rhines and others (sure a few people still go on about psi, but most of what was parapsychology has folded into either New Age mysticism or populist what-was-that ghost hunting)

    Bigfootery, by embracing both Ketchum and Sykes and more generally DNA, may have just set itself up. Bigfoot may be about to go the way of those mentioned above, and fairies and mermaids before them, moving from something believed to be in the material world, to something mystical. People will still believe in it, but this would be the twilight of the pelts and paws, just as the Roswell/MJ12 flurry in the 1980s and 1990s was the twilight of the nuts and bolts.

  12. idoubtit
    October 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    I hope this is true. When do the Ghost Hunters go away, then? They can’t be gone FAST ENOUGH.

  13. spookyparadigm
    October 24, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    They’ll go away sometime after the money dries up. Which could be quite some time. But ghost hunting is what is left after parapsychology hit the falsifiability point I describe above.

    So, you’ll have Bigfoot believers after this. But most of those investing serious effort in the field will be the paranormalists and conspiracy theorists. The naive idea of it being a real but mundane species that science hasn’t yet found, will retreat into pop culture and folklore, rather than being an active pseudoscience.

    I’m not sure who the Arthur Conan Doyle is in this current Cottingsley fairies moment. Remember, fairies were kind of believed in even by semi-repturable historians and anthropologists at the turn of the last century. Not as mystical beings in most cases though I can point to examples where scholars did believe this, but as remnants of Neolithic or Mesolithic people mis-remembered by later people who enter in the Bronze Age, or basically the movie 13th Warrior if you’ve ever seen it. This idea died right around the time of the Cottingsley Fairies, though it was already on the way out due to increasing professionalization of archaeology.

    But that’s where Bigfoot is now.

  14. spookyparadigm
    October 24, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    The other reason ghost hunting won’t entirely disappear is it is very similar to legend tripping. So even when the TV shows finally go out of fashion, and even when ghost hunting tours aren’t profitable outside of a few key places, something like ghost hunting (but without the gear) will still be an adolescent activity. This will provide a bit of a base for it always.

  15. Jes Lookin
    October 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    No more twittering ! My good fwend has a name, you see, Biggus…
    Footus !! Stop that and thwow yourselves to the fwoor.

  16. Frank
    October 24, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    It’s pointless to insult the idea of self-educating. Da Vinci was mostly or completely self-taught, with little or zero formal education. I’m not talking about Ketchum; I’m talking about self-educating. Universities aren’t the only sources of education, as a perusal of Da Vinci’s sketch/ideas books will show you. There are many other examples. The passionate self-taught enthusiast sometimes outstrips the accredited professional.

  17. terrythecensor
    October 24, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    > Homo sapiens cognatus

    Homo sapiens biggus suitus

    > Self-Taught Geneticist

    self-taught self-publicist

  18. idoubtit
    October 24, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Frank: Science, long ago, advanced past self-education due to its complexity and need for specialized equipment and instructors. You can not be a self educated geneticist, unless you have a gigantic ego and are somewhat delusional about it.

  19. October 24, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    I do have more to add to this story. From what I have heard….
    http://www.advancedsciencefoundation.org is not a new website. Robin Lynne (Melba’s right-hand woman) bought the domain through Robin’s daughter…Jessica Jordan… http://www.advancedsciencefoundation.org as the foundation for Melba’s online journal- DeNovo. Melba Ketchum registered the domain name http://www.denovojournal.com and pointed the domain name to Robin’s http://www.advancedsciencefoundation.org prior to go-live in February. I suspect Melba and Robin either ran out of money and could no longer afford http://www.denovojournal.com or they simply don’t have the mind-power to keep denovojournal pointed at advancedsciencefoundation.
    Check out the evidence:

    WHOIS information for advancedsciencefoundation.org:***

  20. Chris Howard
    October 24, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Self-taught usually means taught wrong.

    I am constantly having to retrain self-taught chefs how to do simple things correctly. This is usually because they were too arrogant to consider that anyone could possibly teach them anything.

    I also had a friend while, I was in art school, who believed that we (the art school kids) were suckers.

    He called me over one night claiming to have developed a new oil painting technique.

    He said it had taken him a year to develop it. He showed me several of his paintings. I told him that what he had “invented” was the Chiaroscuro technique, in use for several hundred years, and taught over the course of a weeks worth of classes.

    Point being proper education teaches what mistakes not to make. In that way it is significantly more efficient than being self-taught.

    As was pointed out earlier, science is so complex now that being self-taught means you will be mistaken most of the time. Modern science is so reliant on peer review, and falsifiability that going it alone (self-taught) can only hurt you. Whereas getting a proper education can only help.

    Close minded is close minded, regardless of formal training, or a rebellious “go it alone” attitude.

  21. Sinkroo
    October 25, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    M.K. on her public FB page:
    “Denovo Journal got hacked and they put up a bunch of untruths. Hopefully we will have it back up today.”

  22. idoubtit
    October 25, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    Ok, she is saying the site from which I took the screen cap above was hacked. Hmm. I’m not buying it. From what I observed, those are two different sites. One was http://www.advancedsciencefoundation.org/ which was a new site set up by Robyn, her publicist. It contained a link to Denovo which I thought was the same as it was before. From the history of Melba’s web sites, a few things come to mind. Could it be that Robyn was constructing the new site? She tends to write poorly, have misspelling and exaggerate things. Is this “hacking” excuse just a cover up for horrendous work by someone who does not know what the hell she is doing? It fits what has been posted before. The Denovo and Sasquatch Genome sites were both extremely poorly done with security errors, mistakes, and lousy graphics. I would like to know what really happened but I can’t buy Ketchum’s story (although the sites are so poor, they probably could have been hacked easily). Ketchum has made MAJOR mistakes that have led to her terrible reputation. One of these mistakes has been the completely unprofessional way which she has presented herself. I can’t really believe a word she says and this stinks of another cover up. The Advanced Science foundation now goes to another page of the person who, I think registered it. See more here where there are screen caps that STRONGLY SUGGEST that someone was writing this stuff on the site. I’m leaning towards Robyn and NOT a hacker. This is what you get by doing things on the cheap and bypassing the hard work that goes into actual SCIENCE.

    For more and screen caps, go here. https://seesdifferent.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/texas-dna-specialist-writes-that-sasquatch-is-a-modern-human-being/

  23. October 25, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    I think Ketchum’s photo is “clear”(!) evidence that she is actually a member of yet another previously unknown species, “Homo sapiens incognito”. (The name came out of focus groups.)

  24. Sinkroo
    October 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM


    even if this “hacking excuse is just a cover up for horrendous work by someone who does not know what the hell she is doing”, it was still 1) signed by “supporters”, not M.K, it 2) offered some info contradicting previous M.K. communication, so was suspicious at best, and 3) overall provided every reason to think it might have been a hacking or at least “under construction” page,- so: not official communication by M.K.

    You used it anyway in a manner that suited you.

    As for MAJOR mistakes Ketchum made “that have led to her terrible reputation” and “completely unprofessional way which she has presented herself”:

    first: you probably think of disinformation from Shawn’s blog and elsewhere you accepted as true, just as you accepted this “hacking” or whatever, because it suited you,

    and second: she seems to have “terrible reputation” only on selected sites and among some people, so please do not generalize. If you repeat it often enough, you think it will become the universal truth?

    Actually, this here now shows a “completely unprofessional way” in which you have presented her and her work here.

    Anyway, the day Zoo Bank accepts her application based on her paper, the paper is offline and this appears. William of Ockham would go with hacking on this one.


  25. idoubtit
    October 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Sinkroo: You don’t follow this blog at all, do you?

  26. October 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    The advancedsciencefoundation.org website is offline – it goes to the wix.com placeholder page for when you’ve just barely activated the account. (Basically, Wix is for those people who do not grok HTML, CSS, and all the backend tools needed to build a website.)

  27. Todd Sikkema
    October 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Sinkroo, you couldn’t be more wrong. This site has provided accurate information (and restrained itself from taking cheap shots) since the beginning of the Melba debacle. Sometimes exasperation was expressed, but it was justified.

  28. Todd Sikkema
    October 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    And a PS–exactly what did Melba do with the $500,000 that was donated to support this project? Seeing as everything she has spun out has the appearance of being homemade, where did the money go?

  29. Sinkroo
    October 25, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Oh, I do – can’t you tell from my comment?

  30. Sinkroo
    October 25, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    I could be more right.
    Had this site has provide accurate information, there would be Ketchum’s clear rebuttals of all debunking – from Breaking Bio to contamination, possum etc… There would me links to Carpenter’s blog and his comments allowed, there would be links to her interviews and documents that show her results were leaked from Nature and she was sabotaged, that show she did pas peer review, purchase the journal…not all of that was here, right? Above all, you would contact her personally to inquire about issues….
    Anyway, her data is public now, hopefully GenBank will accept the full genomes, and time will tell.

  31. idoubtit
    October 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    This site does provide accurate information. Unless you provide ACTUAL CITATIONS otherwise, which you haven’t and which can’t be because I would have posted them myself if they existed. But no credible scientist has stepped up to support her stuff.

    Besides the nearly unbelievable unprofessional practices of Dr. Ketchem, anyone who thinks she has acted in a scientifically credible and ethical manner is clueless about how science works and/or too biased to make coherent arguments.

  32. SInkroo
    October 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Got it.

    Don’t get me wrong – I myself think you do some real good and important work here, and please keep it up.

    Just this one thing I have an issue with:
    while covering the Ketchum “saga”, you provide info quoting guys like Robert Lindsay etc, while you miss / fail to use sources like the very pages of the project and the person you report on and Scott Carpenter, who is her associate and provided one of the samples. These would be major sources (not all, though) I think you should have used in order to be accurate, and where you can find the exact things I mentioned.

    So basically, you are good, but I think you can do better 🙂


  33. October 25, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Scott Carpenter’s blog says:

    “This link no longer functions. If you check the owner of the site using whois your get:

    Domain ID:D167596106-LROR
    Created On:15-Jan-2013 05:45:18 UTC
    Last Updated On:17-Mar-2013 03:45:36 UTC
    Expiration Date:15-Jan-2014 05:45:18 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:1 & 1 Internet AG (R73-LROR)
    Registrant ID:SPAG-43520684
    Registrant Name:Jessica Jordan
    So the site is registered to a Jeccisa Jordon. NOT Dr. Ketchum or any of her supporters. You may not like the sites but given the limited resources she did the best she could and they present the facts. The sites are adequate to present the facts. It is obviously a coordinated effort is underway to again smear and discredit Dr. Ketchum, an effort that you are obviously an unwitting participant.”

    But Scott Carpenter is either lying by subtle wording, or being kept in the dark by Robin and/or Melba. Jessica Jordan IS Robin’s daughter. See update 10/25/2013 at http://seesdifferent.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/texas-dna-specialist-writes-that-sasquatch-is-a-modern-human-being/

  34. idoubtit
    October 25, 2013 at 7:26 PM


    I don’t quote Robert Lindsay, so I’m flummoxed why you would say that. I referenced him in the piece I wrote for Skeptical Briefs because he said things that contributed to the chronology. Same with other blogs. They contributed to the Melba circus. I might use Carpenter’s opinions if there was documentation behind them but do not accept proselytizing (cheerleading) for such obviously bad science as comments on this site. We try not, in any way, to allow a platform for bad science. And, I’m not going to argue with someone who is vehemently toeing a line that is very likely completely wrong. Also, I don’t appreciate being lectured and told I’m stupid or don’t understand science. So, I tend to NOT publish such comments in order to keep DN tidy and not degrade into a pissing match.

    I can’t have accuracy in this case because it’s mostly people saying stuff to support a position they want to be true. But, I trust professionals who have examined her data and have broad knowledge about the procedures and existing evidence; I don’t consider Carpenter a genetics expert. In fact, I don’t consider Melba one either. She has not worked with people that I or the genetics community would consider qualified to make these conclusions and I see no reason to believe her interpretation over theirs. I don’t say this based on my own knowledge of genetics – We are all on far better footing to accept the educated opinions of long-standing experts in the field than a one-off publication about human-like DNA by a veterinarian who is not experienced in this field.

    My conclusion is that she is severely mistaken. Time will tell if that is true or not because science is generally self correcting. But TRULY she has made a mockery out of the scientific process in a myriad of ways.

  35. sinkroo
    October 26, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    Sorry if it sounded like mocking of cheerleading, and I sure did not say or think you’re stupid etc.
    Lindsay and other blogs you used as sources sure contributed to Melba being a circus – exactly.
    She sure has worked with people that I or the genetics community would consider qualified – it can all be found in places I mentioned.
    Angle DNA.
    Thanks. As I said, I believe time will tell.

  36. sinkroo
    October 26, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    That “Angle DNA.” is something I failed to erase – it was supposed to more of my bla bla about myriad things that make a circus out of her study that had nothing whatsoever to do with her etc, but I thought that would be irrelevant arguing – but failed to erase the whole thing… I made my point already. Sorry and thanks for allowing me to make it.

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