Bigfoot DNA Under The Microscope; Controversy Brews Over DeNovo Science Journal

Bigfoot Dna

First Posted: 02/19/13 EST Updated: 02/19/13 EST

The question of if Bigfoot exists has graduated from mysterious footprints and fuzzy images to the forensics of DNA research.

News reports last week suggesting that Bigfoot DNA evidence had been analyzed and confirmed through the peer-reviewed DeNovo Scientific Journal raised questions over the legitimacy of the publication.

Questions were also raised -- and have still not been fully answered -- about Texas veterinarian Melba Ketchum's involvement with the journal, threatening the credibility of her five-year study of various alleged Bigfoot DNA samples.

Ketchum's Sasquatch Genome Project site has released the following short video, reportedly showing a sleeping Bigfoot in Kentucky in 2005:

The video above certainly raises many questions about the circumstances surrounding an alleged sleeping Sasquatch.

  • Why only show 19 seconds?
  • How did the videographer get so close to the creature without disturbing it?
  • What was the outcome of this event?
  • Did the Sasquatch just get up and run away, or turn to attack the cameraman?
  • Why has it taken eight years for this to be shown?
  • Why can't the public see the rest of the footage?

Ketchum has felt that the scientific community tried to prevent her work from seeing the light of day.

"We encountered the worst scientific bias in the peer review process in recent history," Ketchum wrote on her Sasquatch Genome Project site.

"Several journals wouldn't even read our manuscript when we sent them a pre-submission inquiry. We were even mocked by one reviewer in his peer review. We did finally pass peer review with a relatively new journal," she wrote.

Over the past week, some have alleged that Ketchum somehow "purchased" a little-known journal in order to re-register it under a new name -- DeNovo Scientific Journal -- and then publish her own results of over 111 samples of reported Bigfoot hair, blood, toenail, saliva and skin.

"I'm certainly not ruling out the possibility that there was a conspiracy of sorts, or a concerted effort to not give this a fair shake, given the controversial matter," said Idaho State University anthropologist Jeff Meldrum, a leading academic and recognized scientific authority on Bigfoot.

"To make an end-run around the process by erecting a facade in the form of a so-called new journal and allege that it is edited and reviewed, without providing any of that information on the public web page, it appears that she has undertaken an effort to self-publish, just to get it out there," Meldrum told The Huffington Post. "And, to boot, she's charging $30 a pop for a copy of the paper."

Meldrum said he doesn't think any credible scientific journal would shy away from the topic simply because of its controversial nature.

"I wouldn't rule it out entirely. There are certainly politics involved in the selection of papers. If it's solid work, this is the discovery of the century, if not the millennium," Meldrum said.

"Any journal, if they were confident in the results and in the expertise of their reviewers, and it came down positive -- I would think they would clamor for the opportunity to have that on the front cover of their journal."

While this drama was played out in the media, other related Bigfoot DNA stories quietly emerged.

In Colorado, a group of researchers that contributed possible Bigfoot samples to Ketchum's study claim to have evidence that could prove Bigfoot's existence.

Dave Paulides, of North America Bigfoot Search, told CBS 4 Denver affiliate that his group has collected hundreds of reported Bigfoot DNA samples.

"This DNA is like nothing else in the world," Paulides said about strands of hair from a reported Sasquatch in Northern California. "This isn't an animal. This is a subspecies of a human, and we believe they travel in groups."

Watch this CBS 4 Denver news report here:

While this information came out of Colorado, researchers in Arizona were talking about the DNA analysis of a possible Bigfoot toenail -- and a potential sighting.

"When I saw [Bigfoot], it was lifting branches up with its arms and walking into the space through the thickets at the side of the road," said Alex Hearn of the Arizona Cryptozoological Reasearch Organization.

Hearn told TV affiliate CBS 5 in Phoenix that a resident in nearby Seligman discovered a reported Bigfoot toenail.

The toenail sample was among the materials given to Ketchum for her DNA analysis. While it's not known definitively if the toenail comes from an unknown primate, Hearn acknowledged that not everyone believes in Bigfoot.

"I don't try to persuade them. But I will show them the evidence that we found. They're welcome to come with us," he said.

Exactly how the Ketchum-DeNovo Scientific Journal issue will play out is still up in the air.

In a previous statement, Ketchum said that her Bigfoot DNA research was an important step toward obtaining some sort of legal, protective status for the alleged creature.

"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."

Check out these photos of Bigfoot through the years:

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  • This still image taken from a 1977 film purports to show Bigfoot in California.

  • A film still shows what former rodeo rider Roger Patterson said is the American version of the Abominable Snowman of Nepal and Tibet. The film of the tall creature was shot by Patterson and Robert Gimlin northeast of Eureka, Calif., in October 1967.

  • Ohio Bigfoot Encounter -- April 2012

    As a motor biker was driving through the Grand River area of Ohio in April 2012, an alleged Bigfoot ran across the road and was caught on videotape.

  • Depicted is an illustration of a creature reported to inhabit the Kemerovo region of Siberia. Scientists from the U.S., Russia and other countries have yet to find one of these creatures known as the Russian Snowman. In early October, researchers claimed to be 95 percent certain that the animal exists.

  • An alleged footprint of a Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, appears in snow near Mount Everest in 1951. Now, scientists are setting out to find evidence of a reported unknown, hairy, bipedal creature known as the Siberian Snowman.

  • Bigfoot or bear? Impression left on the driver's side window of a pickup truck owned by Jeffrey Gonzalez. The bizarre image was left by an alleged Bigfoot in California's Sierra National Forest over Memorial Day 2011. DNA samples of the impressions will eventually determine the identity of the animal responsible for them. (See next slide for a close-up of the paw-like impression.)

  • Close-up of the "paw" print image. The impression was reportedly left by Bigfoot on the window of a pickup truck in the California Sierra National Forest over Memorial Day weekend 2011.

  • Bigfoot or bear? Pictured is a second impression left on the rear side window of the same truck from the previous slides. According to forensic/law enforcement photographer Mickey Burrow, "What you're seeing is a swipe mark. It looks like a small hand, swiping to the left, leaving another impression, and there's hair within those areas -- you can see where the hair would be."

  • This footprint was found over Memorial Day weekend, 2011, near Fresno, Calif. by a group of campers who were on a Bigfoot-hunting expedition. The print, measuring approximately 12 inches, was found near a truck where possible DNA evidence was left behind by more than one Bigfoot creature.

  • This footprint was found in 2008 in the Sierra National Forest near Fresno, Calif.

  • Thomas Byers snapped this photo of "Bigfoot" along Golden Valley Church Road in Rutherford County on March 22, 2011.

  • Bill Willard is the leader of a group searching for evidence of a Sasquatch or Bigfoot creature, spotted by, among others, his two sons in Spotsylvania County. He is shown on May 19 in Thornburg, Va., with a plaster cast he made from a suspicious footprint several years ago.

  • This still frame image from video provided by Bigfoot Global LLC shows what Whitton and Dyer claimed was a Bigfoot or Sasquatch creature in an undisclosed area of a northern Georgia forest in June 2008.

  • This October 2007 image was taken by an automated camera set up by a hunter in a Pennsylvania forest the previous month. Some said it was a Bigfoot creature; others believed it was just a sick bear.

  • A preserved skull and hand said to be that of a Yeti or Abominable Snowman is on display at Pangboche monastery, near Mount Everest.

  • Idaho State University professor Jeffrey Meldrum displays what he said is a cast of a Bigfoot footprint from eastern Washington in September 2006. Some scientists said the school should revoke Meldrum's tenure.

  • Joedy Cook, director of the Ohio Center for Bigfoot Studies, talks to a visitor to his booth on Oct. 15, 2005, at the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson, Texas. The event, hosted by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, drew enthusiasts and researchers of the legendary creature.

  • Ken Gerhard of Houston, Texas, holds a duplicate plaster cast footprint Oct. 15, 2005, at the Texas Bigfoot Conference. The event, hosted by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, drew enthusiasts and researchers of the legendary creature.

  • Josh Gates, host of Syfy TV's "Destination: Truth," holds a plaster cast of what Malaysian ghost hunters said was a Bigfoot footprint in 2006.

  • Al Hodgson, a volunteer guide at the Willow Creek-China Flat Musuem in California, holds up a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot imprint in 2000. The museum houses a collection of research material donated by the estate of Bob Titmus, who spent his life trying to track the creature.

  • Costume maker Philip Morris, who does not believe the Bigfoot legend, claimed the Patterson-Gimlin film showed a person wearing a gorilla suit that he made.