Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bigfoot does not exist!

It is a myth as much as the yeti, the unicorn, mermaids, giant octopus that attack ships and drag them to the bottom of the ocean, the Bermuda triangle, aliens at area 51, little green aliens on Mars, Santa Claus (sorry kids), the Easter bunny and so on. I could probably fill the entire blog post with mystical creatures and suspicious encounters of similar credibility. 

Why would I do that? Because some really bad science is making the headlines again.

A dubious scientist claims to have sequenced Bigfoot DNA. Dr. Melba Ketchum from Nacogdoches (her company) claims:
Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species. Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens."

First and foremost, these results are nowhere published and Ketchum is not sharing them not even more details on the methods used. No reputable scientist makes a press release before a paper has been published. If true any big journal would take the story and insist on doing the PR using their own machinery. Obviously this didn't happen which makes these 'results' not more reliable than any of the shaky videos, blurry images or dubious witness accounts that are called evidence for the existence of Bigfoot.

Good science is shared with the scientific community to allow colleagues a critical view at results and the conclusions. Currently we are left with a pretty much meaningless press release

Dr. Ketchum, if you want anyone to believe your findings release them! Until that happens I and hopefully anybody else with some common sense sees Bigfoot as just another hoax. Unfortunately, these 'news' are currently all over the place and many outlets take the outrageous claim for granted. Bye bye critical thinking. Dear press - you shouldn't buy everything just because it says DNA on the label. The fact that these researchers claim they used DNA analyses doesn't mean a thing. The new hominid nuclear DNA might as well be chimeric and the human mtDNA from a researcher that sneezed on the samples. Most importantly, where did the samples come from? I hardly dare ask, but is there a voucher specimen?

That leaves us with two unproven claims. (1) There is such a being like Bigfoot, and (2) the hybrid between an unknown hominid and a human was actually fertile and evolved into a species that survived the last 15,000 years in North America.

I don't buy it!

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