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Big Foot In Mouth Or Tongue In Cheek?! Sasquatch Sequenced.

“Bigfoot is real, according to genetic analysis.” That bold statement appears on the website of a new journal, the sole paper in which presents what it claims is a mitochondrial DNA match and gene sequence of the (still-mythical) creature Sasquatch, or Bigfoot.

Taking samples from Sasquatch

Melba Ketchum, a veterinarian who runs a DNA testing company called DNA diagnostics, led a team which announced that they had analyzed 111 blood, tissue and hair samples alleged to be collected from Sasquatch, and conducted mtDNA and SNP analysis, as well as whole genome sequencing.

A human/ape cross?

According to the paper, tests included mtDNA sequencing, specific genetic loci sequencing, forensic short tandem repeat (STR) testing, whole genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) bead array analysis, and next generation whole genome sequencing. Ketchum and her colleagues report that Sasquatch appears to be a hybrid between a human and previously unknown species of primate. Ketchum hypothesizes that the wooly creature, until now the stuff of grainy videos and conspiracy buffs, arose 13,000 years ago when a female human crossed with a new species of ape-like creature.

Self-Published Peer Review

Not surprisingly, skepticism abounds. Giving the study the benefit of doubt, one major problem is the journal that published it. DeNovo Journal of Science was created by Ketchum, and contains only one paper in its first issue—the Sasquatch one. Also, it is not clear how the samples were gathered, from what (or whom) they were gathered, and what DNA purification techniques took place (more on that later).

Wanted: Those Devilish Details

In addition, John Timmer, a molecular biologist and editor at Ars Technica, noted that mtDNA shows that the samples are most similar to modern humans, but to Europeans, and not Native Americans, who were the only human inhabitants of the Americas 13,000 years ago. In addition, PCR results on nuclear genomic DNA appears to be “a mess,” where the amplifications missed the intended sequence, and contamination was more the cause of the strange results more than the existence of a new species. Finally, isolated the non-human sequences of DNA and looked for a match (which might be a problem, since BLAST and other databases don’t include Bigfoot).

So, it remains to be seen if this report results with a tongue in a cheek, or a big foot in the mouth.

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