A researcher claims that a hybrid species commonly called "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" should be recognized as indigenous people and must be protected.
A human hybrid?
A team of scientists, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum, of Nacogdoches, Texas, has sequenced three complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and determined that the species is a human hybrid.
"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," Ketchum said.
Ketchum said the Sasquatch is a result of a woman mating with an unknown animal.
"Sasquatch nuclear DNA is incredibly novel and not at all what we had expected. While it has human nuclear DNA within its genome, there are also distinctly non-human, non-archaic hominin, and non-ape sequences. We describe it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence," Ketchum said.
Ketchum said public officials and law enforcement need to recognize Sasquatch as people.
"Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry. Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a 'license' to hunt, trap, or kill them," Ketchum said.
Ketchum is a veterinarian who has spent 27 years researching genetics and forensics. She was a participant in mapping the equine genome. She started testing the DNA of purported Sasquatch hair samples, collected by Sasquatch research teams, five years ago. She said tissue and blood samples were also tested.
Why some people are skeptical
Ketchum said she understand that there are some people who are skeptical.
"I tell them, 'Look at the data when it's published,'" she said. "It's the best science that the United States has to offer. We've done blind studies, we've used a variety of labs, about 13 labs are involved in this testing -- university labs, state government labs, private sector labs, accredited labs. All of this has come together ... we've used a lot of different disciplines to bring this paper together. We started with forensic testing because that way we could determine that there was no contamination."
Ketchum said she believes forensic scientists were best to sure that there was no contamination.
"This is something that the main critics will say, 'Oh, well the samples must have been contaminated -- they're contaminated with humans.' But they're not. We were able to absolutely prove that," Ketchum said. "We ran them against the profiles of the submitters and the lab personnel so we knew that we had pure samples."
The DNA study is undergoing peer review. More details will be released when the study manuscript is published. Ketchum said she hopes the paper will be published in the coming weeks.
"We were not planning on releasing this this soon, however, one of our colleagues in Russia, the head of the Institute of Hominology, he has some samples that we're doing another study on and he was privy to the information," Ketchum said. "He got really excited and he leaked the information prematurely. When he did, it started hitting the news and we have to respond to stop any speculation."