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Bigfoot DNA as mysterious as the elusive cryptid
February 18, 2013 12:13 PM   Subscribe

November 24, 2012: analysis of extensive DNA sequencing of 'a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” ... 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 press release claimed that the research was "currently under peer-review," except that no scientific journal would publish the research, until now: DeNovo, an open access scientific journal. But DeNovo isn't really open access, as it costs $30 to view the article, the paper itself is brand new, the domain was recently purchased, and the website features generic stock photos. Ars Technica digs deeper, summarizing some of the "open access" article, and providing a link to a particularly insightful clip on YouTube, with an odd water mark.

Wasn't the research done by the Texas geneticist, Melba Ketchum? Who is Erickson? Adrian Erickson was a rich fellow who lost millions trying to get bigfoot footage for a documentary. That documentary was to include footage of, as Ars Technica science editor John Timmer wrote, "a very shaggy carpet sleeping in the woods," was supposedly of a female Sasquatch named Matilda. Sadly, it's not the unseen, rumored Matilda footage that was supposed be "the best video of Bigfoot since the Patterson-Gimlin clip from 1967.

Ketchum apparently purchased Erickson's work, and blogger Robert Lindsay, who knows more of Matilda's story, says Ketchum's research is good (though he reviewed some "bootleg copies" of the paper).

Huston Chronicle science blogger Eric Berger has been following Ketchum's Bigfoot DNA story for a while, from the press release (noting that Ketchum's company, DNA Diagnostics, got an “F” from the Better Business Bureau, and that some of the DNA samples came from blueberry bagel-loving Bigfeet in Michigan), and the publication of the paper, and most recently, he got feedback from geneticists.

Bonus: as noted in the Ars Technica article above the fold, the Sasquatch DNA article notes "seen on the television series Monster Quest." But it doesn't clarify which one, so you can watch a bunch of the episodes about the various Sasquatch/Bigfoot creatures here in this YouTube playlist.
posted by filthy light thief (68 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can we just call this a transparent fraud and all go home?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


I want to believe.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


My god. Everyone in the bigfoot world knows that I keep the last known example of the species in my basement. This is fake.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't want to believe.
posted by item at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everyone in the bigfoot world knows that I keep the last known example of the species in my basement.

What happened to the one that was in a relationship with Steve Austin?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:25 PM on February 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


TEACH THE CONTROVERSY
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:29 PM on February 18, 2013 [20 favorites]


Some might think that the sheer ubiquity of cell phone cameras, and the lack of solid pictorial evidence, is pretty strong evidence that there's no such thing as a Sasquatch.

To which I say, nonsense! It's clear that they know about our technological advancement, and are improving their camouflage capabilities. Why, if we keep improving our surveillance technology, I daresay they'll learn how to become completely invisible.

Hmm, unless.... unless they already hav
posted by Malor at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're only invisible if you don't have something delicious for them to eat, like blueberry bagels, or pipes.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:32 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we just call this a transparent fraud and all go home?

Then you'd miss the fascinating Bigfoot internet research community drama!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:33 PM on February 18, 2013


It's like the Phantom of Heilbronn, stabbing you in the face, forever.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is such a waste of sequencers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:35 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then you'd miss the fascinating Bigfoot internet research community drama!

Community drama? Like community theater? Oh, now it all makes a lot more sense.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:36 PM on February 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


If I were writing a legitimate press release for a discovery such as this, I might at least allude to how I had come into possession of "20 whole mitochondrial genomes" from a theoretical species for which we lack even partial skeletal remains.

I might also hire a professional web developer to gussy up the site before posting such groundbreaking news.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:39 PM on February 18, 2013


The Sasquatch does indeed exist. It is real, but exists only in the imagination. It's just not something you can prove, or will ever be able to prove, with DNA sequencing or footprints. But the Sasquatch exists. It's just not real.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: This is such a waste of sequencers.

I first read this as "such a waste of sasquatches", and thought "Ehh, what else have they got to do anyway, besides hang out in the woods?"
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I were writing a legitimate press release for a discovery such as this, I might at least allude to how I had come into possession of "20 whole mitochondrial genomes" from a theoretical species for which we lack even partial skeletal remains.

They found some genomes on the ground in the woods. Or maybe they looked under an old log, hey, genomes! and brought them back and sequenced them. Then they knew it was bigfoot.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:43 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recently saw Bigfoot knocking out a former K-1 grand prix champion (image/GIF). He's not THAT elusive. I mean, shit, I thought everyone knew he was from Brazil.
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2013


I once got into into an argument with my girlfriend in college because I said it would be cool to die in a bigfoot attack. "Oh my god he's real" would be your last thought. She insisted that it's never cool to die. The closest I ever got to living that fantasy was years later when I was mauled by a wild boar, and in retrospect I have to say she was right.
posted by compartment at 12:55 PM on February 18, 2013 [37 favorites]


But...but...Bigfoot is gentle, and would never attack a human!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2013


What do you mean, "That's not a documentary"!?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:03 PM on February 18, 2013


I've got a big foot. Two in fact. You know what that means, right?

Line up for some DNA!
posted by cjorgensen at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


This was on Coast-to-Coast with the other George last night. Melba Ketchum is such a great name.
A woman with a name like that should be in a James Crumley Big Sky Noir novel.
posted by y2karl at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The closest I ever got to living that fantasy was years later when I was mauled by a wild boar, and in retrospect I have to say she was right.

I've often thought that it would be acceptable to die in a Great White shark attack.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:12 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sasquatch genome is the gift which keeps on giving in terms of fine scientific twitter snark. Dr Ketchum has also been defending her work on Facebook, detailing the terrible trouble it had passing peer review, and how it's definitely high quality research because they had more bases of DNA than these other guys.

I would love to read this but shockingly I do not have institutional access to this newly-purchased journal and there's no way I am giving them $30, so I will have to make do with the press releases and the odd bizarre figure which leaks out.
posted by penguinliz at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bengal Tiger in the Hindu Kush or go home.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would the anti-drone crowd approve of the use of drones to monitor forests in the Pacific Northwest to search for Bigfoot?
posted by davidmsc at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You'll never find them. See, back when I lived in the Great North Woods, I did find them (well, really, they found me). It was winter, and especially cold, and they were especially hungry. Good chance to make friends, I figured. I got them through the dangerous part of winter, and in the process, taught them to shave and dress better.
posted by Goofyy at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


GOONY GOO GOO!
posted by Jughead at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Assuming they're sentient primates, presumably they realized at some point that hiding would no longer be a successful strategy. I can only conclude that they have shaved and are walking among us.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, nobody Sasquatch Israel. That would be wrong.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:32 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


HAhaha that hashtag penguinliz posted is gold..


@drugmonkeyblog: MDMA totally cures PTSD: A Controlled Study. #DeNovoVol1Issue2

@HMonotreme
How High's The Water Mama?: Empirical flow rate measurement in ephemeral waterways. (J. Cash et. al.)


@dllavaneras
The long-term negative consequences of fragmenting a reflective glass surface #DeNovoVol1Issue2


@pickleswarlz
Molecular phylogeny construction suggests recent common ancestor of hippogriffs and thestrals #DeNovoVol1Issue2

posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:33 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can only conclude that they have shaved and are walking among us.

Coming this Summer to Animal Planet: Century City Sasquatch: Bigfoot, Big Dreams!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2013


I heard you can tell a squatchista by the flannel shirt.
posted by Twang at 1:42 PM on February 18, 2013


Blazecock Pileon: This is such a waste of sequencers.

I first read this as "such a waste of sasquatches", and thought "Ehh, what else have they got to do anyway, besides hang out in the woods?"
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:42 PM on February 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


Funny you should say that, a "waste of sasquatches" is actually what a group of sasquatches is called.
posted by nevercalm at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I heard you can tell a squatchista by the flannel shirt."

Nah, the giveaway is the tendency (in both sexes) to chew on pipes.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2013


oh god seriously? Dr. Ketchum?
posted by rebent at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2013


Gotta Ketchum all?
posted by Kevin Street at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: I've often thought that it would be acceptable to die in a Great White shark attack.

Flagged as OMG NO NO NO GAAAAAAH
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


"waste of sasquatches" is actually what a group of sasquatches is called.

As is my new grunge band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Irks Files.
posted by pracowity at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's fascinating (to me, anyway) that there is a "Bigfoot Community" and blogs that cover the internal scandals and politicking within it.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:13 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny you should say that, a "waste of sasquatches" is actually what a group of sasquatches is called.

I thought it was a "hoax of bigfoots"?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huston Chronicle science blogger

Would this be Angelica or John?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Razza frazza typos blerg
posted by filthy light thief at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2013


Seems legit. I took a look at the DNA and it looked pretty squatchy to me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:38 PM on February 18, 2013


Razza frazza typos blerg

Yeah, huh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2013


My nephew, a cryptid fan, is gonna love the shit out of this.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:40 PM on February 18, 2013


In other news, the Albert Ostman story has been debunked.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:44 PM on February 18, 2013


That bigfoot show on the Animal Planet channel is one of the funniest shows on TV. I can't not laugh almost constantly while it's on. They are so serious!
posted by zzazazz at 2:47 PM on February 18, 2013


My kid loves that show. We'll watch it together & yell at the TV. (Those guys are goddam idiots.) So glad I've managed to raise a skeptic.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:50 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be so cool if Sasquatches actually existed. (And on a related note, my spellchecker has no problem with the spelling of "Sasquatches," which is interesting.) But in a world where we can find dinosaur fossils that have been buried for 250 million years, and regularly use satellites to count the number of individual snowflakes in a drift, it's looking less and less likely that these eight foot tall hominids could still be out there in the woods, successfully hidden from us.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man...those comment sections are a festering pit of anti-science thinking:

* You can't prove Bigfoot doesn't exist. Therefore, we are right.
* A long time ago, no one believed [real scientist] was right about [subsequently validated theory]. Therefore, we are right.
* We have vast amounts of evidence. It's evidence because we said it is, not because we've proven it is. Therefore, we are right.
* You are part of the Big Science conspiracy against us. Therefore, we are right.
* Aliens. Therefore, we are right.

"Unclear on the concept" doesn't even *begin* to cover these people.
posted by kjs3 at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Judging solely from the press release, the science screams "contamination." I make this suggestion as a sasquatch possibilitan.
posted by kk at 3:35 PM on February 18, 2013


Then you'd miss the fascinating Bigfoot internet research community drama!

Community drama? Like community theater? Oh, now it all makes a lot more sense.


This joke had made me want nothing more than to have Christopher Guest and the rest of the Waiting for Guffman cast make a mockumentary about a cryptozoology convention.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find this take on Bigfoot fairly chilling. Warning, that site is a TVTropes-level rabbit hole.
posted by valrus at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yup, The SCP Foundation is a fantastic timesink.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:54 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would rather be eaten by a big wild boar than a big white shark.

No, wait....yeah, definitely the boar.
posted by mule98J at 5:26 PM on February 18, 2013


Then there is the New Jersey Bigfoot....
bigfoot in the burbs
posted by otto42 at 6:11 PM on February 18, 2013


As one of my more astute friends has pointed out, if Sasquatches really existed someone would have shot one by now. Humans are gifted that way.
posted by moonbiter at 7:09 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Razza frazza typos blerg

Yeah, huh.


I find this amusing for some reason. Visualize the 'quatches around the campfire with backpacker's purloined iphones : "Razza frazza typos blerg. Yeah, huh. Blerg. BLENRG!. Damn autocorrect."
posted by BlueHorse at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


In this book, the author escapes a Siberian labor camp and runs into two yeti at one point. The book is supposedly a true story.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 8:58 PM on February 18, 2013


The book is supposedly a true story.

Like the bib...er...nope...too easy.
posted by kjs3 at 9:14 PM on February 18, 2013


The book is supposedly a true story.

Even without the Yeti claims (of which I hadn't heard), a number of people have questioned the veracity of Rawicz and his book.

My bet is that Yeti claims fall into two categories: I think Rawicz was making shit up. He had a book to sell.
posted by pracowity at 12:07 AM on February 19, 2013


As technology continues to evolve, we will increasingly be able to determine beyond doubt the existence or non-existence of many things... Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, the Lemurian giants living inside Mount Shasta... I guess this is a good thing, but it isn't nearly as fun as not knowing.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:10 AM on February 19, 2013


ok. ok. Let's just all settle down here. I didn't want to have to share this Undeniable Proof of Sasquatch with you. But here you go.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2013


"WHY PATTY IS DEFINITELY NOT A GUY IN A SUIT." Why the Patterson Gimlin Film is absolutely 100% not a guy in a suit? Here are the top ten reasons.

There is no way that anyone today or in 1967 or in 2167 could build a suit to replicate the film. Because Patty is a real living organism. (We... actually list 18 reasons.)

posted by KokuRyu at 1:49 PM on February 19, 2013


Having been obsessed with Bigfoot since child hood. I finally got to go to the Bigfoot Museum in Willow Creek. The lady at the counter mentioned that many of the locals were perturbed with documentary film crew buzzing everyone's home during their search. I still carry my official "big foot drivers license" I purchased in the gift shop. I'm not sure if ibigfoot exists but if he does the most pressing issue has to "What are you chances of surviving an intense love making session with Bigfoot?"

Ultimately for me it's what most fascinating for me is what a Petri dish it has become for how human beings handle the unknown/unknowable.
posted by empty vessel at 4:27 PM on February 19, 2013


Not that you really have to explain why Bigfoot couldn't realistically exist, but...

For a species to survive stoasticity (random death from predation, drought, etc) over time, you need a relatively large population or group of populations. The minimum stable population size varies depending on species traits like maximum breeding age, fecundity, maturation age, etc. To survive for more than a few decades, the species would almost certainly have to at least one or two hundred individuals. To survive for several hundred years, the population would almost certainly have to be significantly bigger. Also, these are large mammals that we're talking about, so even if they're herbivores, they're going to have a fairly large home range, probably at least 10-30 square miles.

And the most reliable "evidence" of the creature came in the 1950s and 1960s. So even if the species was going extinct in the mid 19th century, there would have at least several dozen in, say, the 1930s and 40's, and there would have probably been at least 100 in the late 1800s, and several hundred or thousand in the early to mid 1800s.

So you have a large mammalian species, with at least several hundred individuals, that survived (A) various time periods where numerous species were hunted to extinction all over the united states and (B) heavy encroachment and habitat destruction from Westerners for at least 200 years. And yet, somehow, not one hunter managed to bag or capture one of these things? Barnum and Bailey's didn't decide to check up on rumors and bag one for their shows? Nobody managed to get a photo or darraugotype of the things before 1958? The only plausible way bigfoots could have existed is if they died out before Westerners colonized America's West Coast. But if that were the case, the only "evidence" we have of their existence are contradictory Native American folk tales.

So in conclusion, the things that I'm sure all of you already knew didn't exist don't exist.

On edit: nevermind! From earlier in the thread, photographic evidence of bigfoot!
posted by Green Winnebago at 7:27 PM on February 19, 2013


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