"Bigfoot is real, according to genetic analysis." This bold statement appears on the website of a new journal, where its only paper so far claims to have obtained genome sequence of the (still-mythical) creature Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot.
The research team, led by Dr. Melba Ketchum, announced the analysis of 111 blood, tissue and hair samples of the famous creature. The team also claims to have sequenced portions of mitochondrial DNA (which traces a lineage from the mother side), single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) (which can map out variations between individuals and species), as well as whole genome data. According to their results, BigFoot is an hybrid between a human and a new species of primate. Dr. Ketchum further hypothesizes that the woolly creature arose 13,000 years ago when a female human mated with the new species of primate.
Self-Published Peer Review
Not surprisingly, skepticism abounds. A major problem with this work is the journal where it was published. DeNovo Journal of Science was created by Dr. Ketchum, and so far it contains only the Sasquatch paper. Also, it is not clear how the samples were gathered, nor what DNA purification techniques were used to avoid contamination. In addition, scientific reviewers have noted their mtDNA data shows that their samples are more similar to modern European humans, and not to Native Americans, who were the only human inhabitants of the Americas 13,000 years ago. Then, based on the nuclear DNA amplification results and the targeted genes, the published data suggest that their amplification efforts missed the intended genes. This implies that contamination (a common problem in this field) was the most likely cause of their results, rather than the existence of a new species.
Bigfoot is still mythical, of course, and this new study may be just another in a long line of "announcements" too good to be true. Just to mention a couple, in 2002, two years after the human genome sequence was announced, a group called the Raelians announced that their company, Clonaid, had cloned a human baby. Neither the baby nor supporting data was ever presented. And in 1988, a paper was published in Nature, where French immunologist Dr. Jacques Benveniste claimed to have found immune-response in water that had contained antibodies at some point, but had then been diluted so much that no molecules remained in the water. This claim also was never replicated. So, will there be any more Bigfoot DNA in future publications? At Least they should get a nice picture next time they sample their hair.