Sasquatchi Are Totes Real Man…

As I wrote the other day, a team of researchers claims to have sequenced the DNA of the elusive unicorn chimera Men’s Rights Advocate that isn’t an asshole Bigfoot.  This caught my eye since I feel that the chances of Sasquatches (Sasquatchi) actually existing are, while more likely than finding an MRA that isn’t an asshole, only slightly less likely than finding a herd of unicorn populating the NYC subway system.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be proven wrong.  Finding a new primate species would be an incredible day in the history of science.  (Especially if discovered by Bobo cooking bacon in the forest.)  But the lack of one dead body (or body part) or convincing photo in a nation filled with cars, hunters, and camera phones just makes Bigfoots existence increasingly unlikely with everyday that goes by without one.  Sasquatches are claimed to be living all over the United States, not just in one isolated pocket.  If you imagine one lone Sasquatch for each forest with a sighting, I am sure you can rationalize the lack of proof.  But any large mammal needs a breeding population.  Following the claims of sightings of Sasquatches (Sasquatchi), hikers should literally be stumbling upon them daily.  There are not many skeptical topics I feel comfortable stating things this bluntly, but…  Bigfoot does not exist.  It is a mythical creature.

Still, evidence is evidence, and this evidence needs to be looked at closely.  Since the paper has not been published yet, it is too early to make any definite statement on it, but while we wait we can always speculate!

First we will look over at the Inquisitr:

The shocking Bigfoot DNA discovery made by Dr. Melba Ketchum hasn’t convinced everyone on the planet that Sasquatch is the real deal, according to the Los Angeles Times.

You mean not everyone is willing to abandon all scientific thought on a subject based on an unpublished study still in peer review?  Damn skeptics.

 

Although the dedicated researcher is convinced that the creatures came into existence after a woman mated with a male from an “unknown hominin species,” some experts are’t convinced that Ketchum has discovered the proverbial smoking gun.
This remains the point that convinces me that Ketchum is mistaken.  As unlikely as I feel an unknown North American primate species still in existence is, I find the thought that that species is a human/ape hybrid infinitely more unlikely.  She is claiming that some type of an ape fucked a woman and the resulting offspring was fertile.  Think about that.

As you are thinking about that, let’s have a little bit of rain on the Bigfoot parade:

 

Eric Berger, science blogger with the Houston Chronicle, certainly isn’t convinced the Bigfoot DNA proves the existence of these mysterious beasts.

“At this point I should probably remind readers that there’s not at present a shred of credible scientific evidence that a Bigfoot, or Bigfeet, exist in North America, or anywhere in the world. These are, in fact, mythical creatures,” Berger explained.

He added, “What about the paper, you say? Well, almost anything is possible.”

Other than Berger’s use of “Bigfeet” rather than my preferred “Sasquatchi”, I couldn’t agree more.

 

According to the Los Angeles Times, University of Wisconsin anthropologist John Hawks is another individual that isn’t taking Ketchum’s Bigfoot finding at face value. Hawks explained that he wouldn’t comment on Ketchum’s claims until the DNA research had been completed.

“No data, no discovery,” he said.

I like that.  It should be in all skeptical books, right beside “The plural of anecdote is not data.

 

And while you are still thinking about that huge unknown ape fucking that poor (relatively) tiny woman, consider this as well:

 

Interestingly, the International Science Times discovered that DNA Diagnostics — the company used to dig through the alleged Bigfoot DNA — has been given an “F” by the Better Business Bureau. In fact, over a dozen people have complained about the company’s services.

At least it is a reliable company.  Reliably bad, but still reliable.

 

Dr. Melba Ketchum said she won’t comment further on this controversial Sasquatch project until her research has concluded.
Really?  Sigh.  Perhaps she shouldn’t have commented at all until it was out of peer review?

 

For a more scientific look, we will next visit Dr. Steven Novella over at his wonderful blog, NeuroLogica:

 

Until these results are peer-reviewed and published it is difficult to give a definitive critique, but from what is being reported a few things are clear. First, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is unambiguously human. I suspect these samples come from hair, which retains mtDNA but not nuclear DNA (nuDNA). (Mitochondria are the energy factory of cells, likely evolved from primitive bacteria, and still retain some of their own DNA. Nuclear DNA comes from the nucleus of cells and is the main genetic code of the organism.)

The nuDNA also contains human sequences but also unknown sequences. We are told these do not match Neanderthal, other known early hominids, or any known ape. They are simply unknown. So, in short, we have human DNA (not human-like, but human) mixed in with some unknown sequences. Ketchum concludes from this that the samples are from a hybrid between a human and an unknown primate occurring less than 15,000 years ago.

Alternate hypothesis please, Dr. Novella?

Let me offer a preliminary alternate hypothesis. The hair samples that contain only human mtDNA are from a human. The samples from which the nuDNA is isolated are also from humans but with some contaminants or some other animal source mixed in. That seems to be a more parsimonious interpretation. I would like to know more about the source of the DNA, but I guess that will have to wait for the full details to be published. The fact that the human DNA is modern human (hence the need for the alleged hybridization to have occurred so recently in the past) is most easily explained as the source simply being modern humans.

But I am still stuck on the ape fucking a human.  (How can you not be?)  And so is Steve, although in a much less vulgar way:

Let us also consider the scenario that Ketchum is suggesting – in the very recent past (less than 15,000 years) an unknown primate bred with modern human females (mtDNA comes almost exclusively from the female line) producing the creature we now know as bigfoot. What, then, must the original unknown primate looked like? The result of this pairing then produced fertile offspring, enough to generate a new stable population of bigfeet. It is highly doubtful that the offspring of a creature that looks like bigfoot and a human would be fertile. They would almost certainly be as sterile as mules. Humans could not breed with our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, or any living ape. It is probable that we could produce fertile young with Neanderthals, but it gets doubtful the further back in our evolutionary history we go – and how far back would we have to go to reach a common ancestor with bigfoot?

Bottom line?

The bottom line is this – human DNA plus some anomalies or unknowns does not equal an impossible human-ape hybrid. It equals human DNA plus some anomalies.

And just because I love this quote from Ketchum:

Yet Ketchum (somewhat prematurely) suggests:

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.”

I suggest an immediate ban on unicorn hunting as well.  We must protect their noble horns.

And although Dr. Novella, as I have, makes it clear that this evidence must be examined once it passes peer review and is published, I couldn’t agree more with his closing statement.

What can be recognized is the process of pseudoscience – anomaly hunting and then backfilling to the desired conclusion. What we don’t have is compelling evidence for a new species.

Sasquatchi.  Still as mythical as non-asshole MRA’s.

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