Tag Archives: Bigfoot

Science Should Be Like a Jet Ski?

(Last update: 3-24-13)

Ketchum recently posted a comment on her Facebook page calling for volunteers to contact state and government offices about protecting Bigfoot. A great many people–one as far away as South Africa–volunteered to lobby in their respective areas. But the thing that struck me was the number of anti-science comments. I just wanted to post some of them to demonstrate how the people supporting her have no idea how science works and or have religious reasons for rejecting the reports that say the DNA study is flawed.

I’m pretty sure science is hesitant to study Bigfoot because of the great many hoaxes associated with the subject, as well as the complete lack of evidence for the creature (unless you count grainy video of blobs, footprints that can be faked, and human-contaminated bear DNA as proof). I find it funny that they portray scientists as being ignorant rednecks because of some perceived weakness in discovering new species. Allow me to introduce the ASU International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) lists for the “Top Ten New Species” of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Take note of how the IISE finds making this list “a daunting task” because “over 18,000 new species [are] officially described each year” (see 2012). I’m pretty sure this means scientists know more about discovering new species than what the Ketchmite gives them credit for.

Ketchum’s associate Robin Lynne replied with the following post.

Yes, they are so jealous that she sequenced contaminated bear hide and self-published a paper with pictures of a Chewbacca mask and citations to an April Fools joke. I’m sure any scientist worth their weight in degrees would jump at the chance to ruin their credibility like that.

Here’s another goody. It likens truth to a Jet Ski.

So science should rocket forward with no regard for safety and ultimately slam into pedestrians? Thankfully, that’s not how science works. I think the giant ship is a more fitting metaphor. A giant ship will stay on a course because time has shown that it is the best course to take. Many ships have traveled that same course for years and years and never run aground. If a captain can reliable show that altering the route by just a few degrees will make the trip faster, then all ships will have no problem changing course. Likewise, science will gladly change a position on something if it can be demonstrated to be wrong or a new method or theory can be demonstrated to be better. All one has to do is look at history to know that science is self-correcting. This is the only way that progress is made. It’s funny that the person mentions the Flat Earth. When was the last time any credible scientist argued in favor of this model?

I saved the best for last. I think the phrase “batshit crazy” best defines this.

You heard it here first, folks. The Bible is true because Bigfoot is an alien. I think the “extraterrestrial” male parentage that they speak of refers to the supposed “unknown DNA” from Ketchum’s paper. Robert Lindsay was the first to report that it was “Angel DNA.” This is based on a fringe theory even among Bigfooters that Bigfoot is actually a Nephilim, the giant offspring of angels and human women (Genesis 6:4). One source indicates that Ketchum voiced her belief in this theory in a phone conversation back in 2011. There is additional evidence that her research may have been influenced by religious conviction. The Over the Line, Smokey! blog reported a few weeks ago (update 3-5-13) that she appeared on a coast-to-coast AM radio show and told the host that her research: “doesn’t support Darwin’s theory of evolution.” That sounds like something a proponent of Intelligent Design would say. I’ve commented elsewhere (update 2-23-13) that the fundamentalist-type Bigfooters remind me of creationists so much because of their hatred of mainstream science and unquestioning support of Christian “scientists” claiming to have undeniable proof for the existence of God. The Bigfooters have just replaced “God” with “Bigfoot” and the biochemist Michael Behe with Melba Ketchum.
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Update 3-24-13:

Ketchum posted a comment to her Facebook page the other day saying that an independent review of her data came back in her favor. Cough…BULLSHIT…cough. Excuse me. Another one of her supporters posted some crazy stuff:

I figured the other possibility was “Goddidit” so I checked his user page and found this update:

I figured as much considering his statement about “evolutionists” (a term often used by creationists in a pejorative manner). I later pressed him on the discussion page to reveal what the other possibility was so people would know he was going off of faith and not evidence. This was his reply:

The comment really piqued my interest because he referred to the entity in question as “some thing” rather than God or Jesus. After further pressing, he finally wrote this:

This is a new one for me. I’ve never heard of anyone ever try to use the “ancient alien” theory to disprove evolution. It turns out his views were influenced by the following video. The host, Lloyd Pye, a supposedly well-known crank and proponent of “alien creationism,” uses his flawed understanding of genetics and evolutionary history to claim humans did not evolve from apes but were engineered and placed on earth.

The problem with using aliens to disprove evolution is that it begs the question of where the aliens came from. Were they also genetically engineered by an older race of aliens that were themselves engineered? This would have to continue back through time ad infinitum. Sure, someone could argue that God created the very first alien race long ago, but why doesn’t the Bible mention this? If true, this would mean the biblical account of Man’s creation is wrong. It’s a good thing that these alien creationists have Bigfoot on their side, because his long arms will be a big help in removing the buckets of dirt from the giant pit they are digging for themselves.

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Bigfoot Horse Hair Braiding

(Last update: 11-18-14)

Melba Ketchum, the Texas veterinarian who claims to have sequenced the Bigfoot genome, has posted a picture of a horse that supposedly had part of its mane braided by a Bigfoot. The photo caption on her genome project website states: “Sasquatch appear to take an interest in our animal companions and have been reported to braid horse manes.”

Bigfoot hair braid

(Fair use under 17 USC § 107.)

A similar practice of tying knots into animal fur has been reported in the Mahale Chimpanzee community in Tanzania, Africa. The primatologist William C. McGrew comments in his book The Cultured Chimpanzee (2004) that he had discovered an adult female chimp named Akko wearing the fur of a red colobus monkey that had been knotted into a necklace.

The necklace

A drawing of the necklace.

The knot

A drawing of the knot. [1]

Pretty amazing, right? This is obviously proof that higher primates have a penchant for hair manipulation. Well, not exactly. I’ll let McGrew explain:

Was this the first record of a manufactured ornament in a wild ape? … Perhaps, but not likely. It could have been: (1) accidental, from Akko’s repeated manipulation of the skin, so that a knot got tied inadvertently; (2) mistaken, as Akko might have been trying to bandage her cut finger with the skin but instead tied a knot; (3) observer error, as we might have mistaken Akko’s draping a piece of bark around her neck for her wearing of the skin, (4) misattribution, as the knot might have been tied by a baboon, and then only found by Akko; (5) hoax, as our field assistant might have knotted the skin, as a joke. Or the one useful explanation could be that this was (6) the invention of the necklace in Mahale’s [local chimpanzee community], to be followed perhaps by a whole fashion for body ornamentation. Sadly, it apparently was not the start of a fad; since recovering Akko’s knot in 1996, we know of no further instances. It may have been one of those many memetic mutations that never caught on.

But, you may say, the anecdote of Akko’s knot at least shows that chimpanzees have the capacity to use a knot to make a necklace. Wrong. An accident, mistake, error, etc., says nothing about an ape’s capacity to do anything. All that an anecdote can do is alert us to a possibility, so that we will look for it again… [2]

The researchers never saw Akko actually tie the knot, so attributing the skill to her is unwise. Likewise, no one has ever seen a Bigfoot braiding a horse’s hair, so attributing the phenomenon to a creature that has never been demonstrated to exist is ridiculous. There are any number of things that can explain the braids. It’s best to eliminate all possibilities like McGrew did above before coming to a conclusion. It could be: 1) Bigfoot actually braids the hair; 2) it’s a hoax, meaning a human is braiding the hair and attributing it to Bigfoot; 3) wind twirls the hair into braids; or 4) the hair is matted into braids through scratching and rubbing. Let’s face it, there is zero evidence for number one. Number two is very possible since hair braiding is common knowledge–a boy doesn’t grow up with sisters and not learn how to do it. The last two are actually the most plausible. According to the book Grooming Horses (2009): “In the worst-case scenario, the mane can become hopelessly tangled into long, matted ‘witch’s knots’…by the wind and the elements.” [3] That is why there are products specifically designed for detangling matted hair. Take this page, for example (pay close attention to the first picture). It is important to note that matting is a danger to horses because their legs can get caught in their hair:

Let’s not forget that Bigfoots are not the only mythological creatures to be associated with tangled hair. The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1870) states the French Lutin goblins: “Sometimes…so tangle the mane of a horse or head of a child that the hair must be cut off.” [4] These myths are simply used to explain natural hair matting.
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Update 3-14-13:

Elves were also associated with tangled hair. Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain (18th-century) defines “Elf-Locks” as “[a] matted lock of hair in the neck.” [5] The phrase “To Elf” was understood as a verb meaning “[t]o entangle in knots.” [6] The most famous instance of elf-locks in association with horses comes from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” (1597):

—This is that very Mab,
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And brakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes. [7]

The play is often considered the first recorded mention of elf-locks. [8] However, the phenomenon was first recorded all the way back in the 13th-century. William of Auvergne (d. 1249), Bishop of Paris, wrote about female spirits led by a queen representing the goddess Diana. At night, “[t]hey sometimes enter stables with wax tapers, the drippings of which appear on the hairs and necks of the horses, whilst their manes are carefully plaited.” [9] I think it’s safe to assume this folk legend predates the bishop’s writings. This just goes to show that the Bigfoot is the most recent explanation for this phenomenon.
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Update 3-15-13:

Witches are also associated with the phenomenon. The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines a “Hag’s Knot” as: “Tangles in the manes of horses, etc., supposed to be used by witches for stirrups.” [10] This was once a common belief among African Americans of the southern United States in the 19th- and early 20th-century. According to Newbell Nil Puckett:

When you find your hair plaited into little stirrups in the morning or when it is all tangled up and your face scratched you may be sure that the witches have been bothering you at night … Horses as well as humans are ridden; you can tell when the witches have been bothering them by finding ‘witches stirrups’ (two strands of hair twisted together) in the horses’ mane. A person who plaits a horse’s mane and leaves it that way is simply inviting the witches to ride, though they will seldom bother the horses except on very dark nights, and even then have a decided preferences for dark colored horses. In England and Scotland, such ‘fairy stirrups’ are attributed to the pigsies (piskies) riding the animals.” [11]

I wonder if Bigfoot and the witches trade braiding secrets.
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Update 3-19-13:

As I mentioned in my last update, a common piece of folklore is that witches braid horse manes into stirrups so they can ride them. Well, it turns out that some people actually believe juvenile Bigfoots are braiding horses so that they can do the same. In September 2011, the Western Bigfoot Society had a meeting during which:

Don Monroe from Montana had an interesting presentation on the braiding of the manes of horses. He thinks it is a sign of higher intelligence in the Wild People, and indicated a great dexterity. Three plaits are arranged one over and under another; interwoven and twisted together, often lengthened by including tail hairs to make a possible rein to hold on to for riding. Rhettman commented relayed [sic] an account from an equestrian lady in Montana that stated it is not the heavy adults, but the younger creatures whose tiny fingers do the braids and rode the horsed [sic] (Don commented on Asian horses being ridden in that fashion).

The “[t]hree plaits…arranged one over and under another” is demonstrated by this illustration:

Briaded horse mane

(Click here for a larger picture.)

The summary of Monroe’s presentation continues:

[The braids] from simple three strands to more complicated ones similar to a French braid and are tied off with a tight hair knot. Don has investigated horses from near Owyhee, Oregon, on the Neil Hink Ranch and at Blazer Horses at the Phil Jenson Ranch to determine that out of 135 horses examined, 40, a trifle over a third, were found to have braids. The puzzled farmers usually just cut them off. It was noted that there is no activity when snow is on the ground, but only when the ground is hard and dry and doesn’t leave tracks.

I find it extremely hard to believe that those farmers don’t know where the knots are coming from, especially when they are so common (“a trifle over a third, were found to have braids”). As I’ve explained above, these plaits can be caused by the elements. For instance, a member of a British horse forum started a thread asking whether their horse’s plaited mane was caused by natural or supernatural forces. Another member replied by saying:

My little welshie gets them all the time through winter…When you see pictures of neglected horses with thier [sic] manes all matted…well thats [sic] how they start…with a small ‘plait’. If you leave it long enough more will add to it and you will end up with a huge mass of knotted mane. I have had my pony 11yrs now and she gets them every winter.

Here are the pictures that they provide as proof:

plaited hair

(Click here for a larger picture.)

(Click here for a larger picture.)

These look like they’ve been done by hand, don’t they? Monroe seems to think that it’s possible to determine the handedness of the Bigfoot doing the braiding: “there is about a 79% chance that the braiding is done by a left handed creature, from the direction that hairs are divided.” Really? What hand was used to braid this three-plaited masterpiece?

(Permission to use this picture was graciously provided by
Emily Gibson of the Barnstorming blog. Check her out.)

Hmm…this looks sort of like Monroe’s drawing of the braided horse mane from above. Emily’s delightfully tongue-and-cheek article “Gernumbli gardensi Infestation” posits that it’s the handiwork of gnomes, but she is aware that’s its the product of nature. Now if only Bigfooters would catch up with the rest of us.
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Update 5-28-13:

I’ve written a brief introductory article (a work-in-progress, really) that explains the origins of the horse hair braiding myth:

http://theeternalhunt.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/witches-knots-their-origin-connection-to-wild-hunt-folklore-and-spread-to-america/
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Update 7-25-13:

I learned from this blog (thanks for the shout out) that Don Monroe published a book on Bigfoot braiding. I looked around and found it was named The Braided Horses Are Coming (2013). It apparently had a very limited release because I can only find one place selling the book, and it is no longer available. Here is a description:

Exploring the mysteries of the strange braided loops repeatedly found in the manes of horses, both wild and domestic, Don Monroe takes us along on his personal adventure of discovery. These loops have long been taken merely as annoying tangles formed by the wind and brush; on closer inspection they seem to have been made by skilled hands, but whose? Monroe looks at possibilities from the ever elusive ‘Sasquatch’ or ‘Bigfoot’ to humans who have chosen to go ‘feral’ and live off the land totally separate from ‘civilization.’ What is the truth of it? Join him and perhaps we will find out…

I would love to get my hands on a copy to see what method he used to analyze the braids. I’m certainly not going to pay to read it, though. I’ll update this entry if I gain access to a copy.
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Update 8-2-13:

Ketchum made the following announcement on her Facebook page on 7-31-13:

Had a good interview with Jen Brien at WBZ out of Boston CBS affiliate tonight. It was cleansing as I vented about how things have gone with the project and how unfair the research has been treated. I seldom do this but considering the recent unwarranted criticism, I decided not to be quiet for a change. Jen might be the first media person to visit our habituation sites. I truly hope that she does. Time will tell.

From what I’ve been able to find out, Jen Brien talks to people on air about UFOs and conspiracy theories just like Coast to Coast AM, which Ketchum previously appeared on. This means she specifically targeted a “fringe friendly” radio personality to help her prove the existence of Bigfoot in the public eye. She has pretty much given up on the scientific arena since her study has been torn to shreds. I’m interested to see if the mane braiding will be a subject touched upon if Brien does visit the supposed habituation site. I’ll keep an eye out.

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Update 8-5-13:

The Bigfoot Evidence blog recently reported that Jen Brien may have passed up on the chance to visit the habituation site. I can’t find the post on either of Ketchum’s Facebook pages. She may have deleted it to avoid pissing off Brien. However, there is a screen capture:

That’s pretty sad when a radio talk show host who discusses UFOs won’t even come visit you because they smell BS. What’s “just a little odd” is that Ketchum is still trying to wage a popularity contest in place of inviting credentialed scientists to come view the habituation site. If such a place is so active, all she would have to do is invite some primatologists with video cameras. A few days worth of notes, pictures, and footage would settle 50 years of debate. But that would be too easy if Bigfoot was a real (and not imagined) creature.

I will continue to follow this story to see if Brien or anyone else will visit the site.
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Update 8-26-13:

M.K. Davis recently posted a video of what he considers to be evidence of Patty, the supposed Bigfoot from the Patterson-Gimlim film, having a braid in her hair. Quite frankly, I’m not convinced. No matter of applying “filters” to increase the contrast in the film makes the dark blob look like a braid. First and foremost, the “braid” just so happens to appear in the exact same areas as dark spots in the foliage. This tells me that Davis is simply seeing what he wants to see. Second, the braid doesn’t swing with natural moment like it should if it is indeed that long. Davis claims the wind is whipping it around; however, again, it only appears in the aforementioned spots. Considering that the figure is walking forward, this would explain the sudden appearance of a dark blob next to the head. It is interesting to note that these dark spots are still visible in the treeline as Patty continues to walk forward.


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Update 8-27-13:

Suzanne Burnham, DVM, a friend of the Texas Folklore Society, wrote me in April of this year because she had heard of my research on witches’ knots (I had forgotten about it until recently). She is quite familiar with the natural ways these knots form. This should serve as a further example of how the people claiming these are “braids” either are delusional or are fibbing:

I have groomed horses almost all of my life and so has my husband. My background is European, English saddle and jumping horses; his is western saddle, rodeo and West Texas. Both if us are familiar with the term witch’s knot and for us both it refers to the tangle of hair in the horse’s tail that forms usually at the end of the tail bone. At the center of the knot is the evil that started it. As we apply Vaseline or heavy conditioner to the knot, we gently pick out the hair until we find what is in the middle if it. Sometimes it will be a branch of dried briar, a cocklebur or the claw seed of a pasture weed. It always has spines, thorns or sharp points on a twig. After we remove the “evil” we shampoo the tail to remove the lubricant which otherwise would attract dust and dirt. The term came to us from horsemen who came before. No idea of the origins but at the barn, it is a well known term. My daughter is familiar with it and says its the normal barn vernacular!

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Update 8-29-13:

MK Davis has once again uploaded a video about the “braid.” This time the braid has been “enhanced” so people can see it better. The film is just a blob of colors when zoomed in, so this begs the question of whether or not the braid is even original to the film. Other features on Patty’s head, such as an ear and an opening and closing mouth, have been enhanced so much they look like hand drawn caricatures. This leads me to suspect that Davis may have taken liberties by using a digital program to paint these objects in. This is not the first time he has been accused of manipulating the film to create evidence.


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Update 10-12-13:

It should be pointed out that today’s horses are not native to North America. In fact, they have been present for less than 500 years. The Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés brought the first horses with him to Mexico when he came to conquer the Aztec Empire in 1519. The first horses to make it to what would become the United States might have been those brought by the fellow conquistador Francisco Vásquez when he pushed into New Mexico looking for the fabled city of gold in 1540. A breeding population didn’t happen until sometime later when people began to settle North America. [12] When horses became widely used is unknown to me; however, their arrival predates the earliest verifiable Sasquatch stories–these mythical people were essentially giant Indians before they were recast as the furry creatures we know today–from the 1920s by almost 400 years. [13] If Bigfoot were truly braiding horse manes this entire time, there should have been such braiding stories long before they started popping up in the late 20th-century. But, instead, any stories dealing with horses and mythical creatures follow the European variants mentioned above.

As I described in an earlier entry (3-14-13), the legend of mane braiding goes back to at least 13th-century Europe. Female spirits led by the goddess Diana were said to plait the manes of horses at night so that they could ride them. Church documents from the early 10th-century considered Diana and her crew to be witches, [14] so witches riding horses at night became a common folktale that spread across Europe. This legend eventually spread to the Americas not long after the horse was first introduced. For instance, during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, one woman was accused of riding a horse with a magic bridle.
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Update 11-18-14:

Ketchum recently stated on her facebook page that she was going to be making a video about Sasquatch horse mane braiding:

My next video is about the way the Sasquatch braid horses’ manes. They use primarily the same pattern worldwide. Here’s a little preview of a slide where I pulled a couple of British horses to compare. It was funny, it was a forum and they were all freaking out because they didn’t know what was doing it. Some thought it was thieves marking their horses but none of the horses were being stolen. I did resist the temptation to enlighten them. The bay on the right is one of mine. Robin Lynne Forestpeople owns the pony from MI. There are a lot of other pics out there on the net but I just grabbed these for an example. The video will go more in depth.

The entire video will probably consist of analyzing random internet photos and claiming the supposed twist patterns denote an intelligent hand. At no point will video of an actual braiding event be offered as evidence. Modern day folk stories about the beast braiding manes by night will be used in lieu of this. Natural explanations for knotting, such as the wind and itching, will surely be glossed over, as well as the long history of knots being attributed to supernatural figures like elves, fairies, goblins, and witches.
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Notes

[1] W.C. McGrew and L.F. Marchant, “Chimpanzee Wears Knotted Skin ‘Necklace’,” Pan Africa News 5, no. 1 (June, 1998): 8-9, http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/143363/1/Pan5%281%29_08.pdf (accessed March 13, 2013).
[2] William Clement McGrew, The Cultured Chimpanzee: Reflections on Cultural Primatology (Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 77-79.
[3] Jessie Shiers, Grooming Horses: A Complete Illustrated Guide. Guilford, Conn: Knack, 2009, 102.
[4] Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Giving the Derivation Source, or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words That Have a Tale to Tell (London: Cassell and Co, 1905), 783-784.
[5] John Brand, Henry Ellis, and William Carew Hazlitt. Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: Faiths and Folklore; a Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs, Past and Current, with Their Classical and Foreign Analogues, Described and Illustrated. London: Reeves and Turner, 1905, 208.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] See this etymology page, for example. It dates “Romeo and Juliet” to 1592.
[9] Paulist Fathers, Catholic World (Paramus, N.J., etc: Paulist Fathers, etc., 1865), 326.
[10] Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions, 1994), 516.
[11] Newbell Niles Puckett, Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro (S.l: Kessinger Pub, 2003), 151-153.
[12] John L. Long, Introduced Mammals of the World: Their History, Distribution, and Influence (Wallingford, Oxon, UK: CABI Pub, 2003), 352.
[13] Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero, Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 34-35.
[14] Alan Charles Kors, Edward Peters, and Edward Peters. Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 62.

Bibliography

Brand, John, Henry Ellis, and William Carew Hazlitt. Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: Faiths and Folklore; a Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs, Past and Current, with Their Classical and Foreign Analogues, Described and Illustrated. London: Reeves and Turner, 1905.

Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Giving the Derivation Source, or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words That Have a Tale to Tell. London: Cassell and Co, 1905.

———-The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase & Fable. Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions, 1994.

Kors, Alan Charles, Edward Peters, and Edward Peters. Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

Long, John L. Introduced Mammals of the World: Their History, Distribution, and Influence. Wallingford, Oxon, UK: CABI Pub, 2003.

Loxton, Daniel, and Donald R. Prothero. Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

McGrew, William Clement. The Cultured Chimpanzee: Reflections on Cultural Primatology. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

McGrew, W.C., and L.F. Marchant. “Chimpanzee Wears Knotted Skin ‘Necklace’.” Pan Africa News 5, no. 1 (June, 1998): 8-9. http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/143363/1/Pan5%281%29_08.pdf (accessed March 13, 2013).

Paulist Fathers. Catholic World. Paramus, N.J., etc: Paulist Fathers, etc., 1865.

Puckett, Newbell Niles. Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro. S.l: Kessinger Pub, 2003.

Shiers, Jessie. Grooming Horses: A Complete Illustrated Guide. Guilford, Conn: Knack, 2009.


Chewbacca is a Bigfoot and His Daughter is a Lemur

(Last update: 3-1-13)

Before Melba Ketchum’s DNA study, the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film was often considered the best piece of evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. It remained the unrivaled champion of Bigfoots caught on film for nearly half a century. But an HD video of a sleeping Bigfoot reported in August of 2011 threatened to dethrone it. [1] Screen images reported by the media showed a dark furry body sleeping in a pile of leaves behind some trees. The original clip was said to be part of a documentary being shot by the Canadian-based “Erickson Project,” an offshoot of Ketchum’s DNA study. [2] A few months later in November, the Bigfoot was identified as a young female with the nickname Matilda. One source described her as “look[ing] something like a “Wookie” from Star Wars. She has dark, deep-set eyes that do not blink. Her eyes dart around though, and look paranoid and aggressive. They have a feral look about them. She’s basically a wild animal.” [3] A picture of Matilda’s face and a short clip of her sleeping were included in Ketchum’s self-published study. [4]

This picture was recently leaked online. Those wishing to see it should make sure they are sitting down. I would hate for one of my readers to pass out from shock and hit their heads on any nearby blunt objects. The faint of heart should proceed with caution…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Fair use under 17 USC § 107.)

Kind of underwhelming isn’t it? Doesn’t look much like a human cousin at all. In fact, it looks more like a werewolf from a cheesy low budget horror flick. I kind of get the feeling I’ve seen it somewhere before, but I can’t put my finger on it. I think I’m going to have to phone a friend on this one, Regis. I choose the special effects artist Bill Munns:

Regis, my final answer is Chewbacca from Star Wars… So it turns out Matilda is just a Chewbacca mask punched with different fur. It’s undeniable at this point, but there are people still clinging to the notion that it might be real. Here is a Facebook comment from one of Ketchum’s supporters:

The desperation just drips from the comment, doesn’t it? This development casts a negative light on the Erickson Project. I agree with the Ketchum supporter; if it is a hoax, why would they use a mask of one of the most recognizable iconic figures in movie history? It’s anyone’s guess. The answer could range from a serious lack of forethought to just plain laziness. As I mentioned above, early reports said that Matilda was rumored to look just like a “wookie.” I think that’s too much of a coincidence. I imagine Munns’ discovery is going to hurt the project in their wallet. It no doubt ruined the project’s chances at selling the film to prospective distributors. No firm would ever want to be associated with a known hoax.

Not long after Munns’ picture was released, the Erickson Project went into damage control mode by asking Ketchum to remove the picture from her Bigfoot Genome site. She reported this on her Facebook page:

Im [sic] sorry to say the picture of Matilda had to be taken down. While she is adorable that picture is owned by Adrian Erickson. It was allowed to be in the paper only. That picture is copy written and licensed. Anyone distributing or posting it is doing so illegally. Adrian is a good person and out of respect for him we will not post it publicly . We advise everyone to do the same.” [5]

Ketchum herself never intended for the picture to support the existence of Bigfoot. She just added it in as “entertainment”—the icing on the cake, if you will. [6] But what if the picture was real? Would it have supported her findings? The answer is a resounding “no.” There is a very simple reason for this: the nose. When is the last time anyone ever saw a nose like that on an ape or monkey? There are living primates that do have a nose like that, but they are so distantly related to humans that there is no way they could mate with us and produce viable hybrid offspring. The primate in question is the majestic Lemur.

All primates are divided into two distinct suborders, the Haplorhini (humans, the other great apes, monkeys, and tarsiers) and Strepsirrhini (lemurs, pottos, and lorises). These two groups are believed to have set out on separate evolutionary paths around 60 million years ago. [7] Lemurs are classified under Strepsirrhini (“wet nose”) because they have a rhinarium, the same type of cold snotty nose as your dog or cat. The moisture of the rhinarium helps gather scent to be processed in the olfactory glands inside the nasal cavity. Lemurs are active at night, so they rely more heavily on their sense of smell than other primates. Humans and the other great apes are active during the day and therefore rely more on their sense of sight and touch than their nose. [8]

This leaves three choices: 1) Bigfoot is some unknown category of ape that retained the rhinarium; 2) it is an ape that re-evolved the primitive feature; or 3) it is a lemur. The first choice is possible, but there is absolutely zero evidence to support it. Anyone arguing in favor of this would have to explain why an ape would continue to exhibit this trait millions of years after its fellow higher primates developed different noses. Another challenge is that related animals tend to have similar anatomy. If the creature is genetically close enough to humans to mate with us, why wouldn’t it have a nose like ours? The human nose is more similar to that of a chimp or gorilla than it is to a lemur. The second choice is possible, but, again, there is zero evidence for it. Most importantly, 15,000 years (when Bigfoot is said to have first appeared) is not long enough for a novel anatomical structure to form. Humans and chimps are separated by 7 million years of evolution and our body plans are not all that different. The third choice is also possible because lemurs have several traits in common with those associated with Bigfoot. Apart from the rhinarium and being nocturnal, lemurs have a luminescent membrane inside their eyes called the tapetum lucidum, which captures low levels of light and helps them see in the dark. [9] Whenever an external light source hits their eyes, it bounces off of the membrane producing the so-called “eye shine.” Numerous people have reported eye shine during encounters with Bigfoot at night. [10] But, again, anyone arguing in favor of a connection would have a hard time explaining why the creature would continue to exhibit this trait while humans and the other great apes developed a retinal fovea to process light during daytime. [11] There were also giant lemurs the size of gorillas that went extinct as recently as 350 BCE. [12] But anyone arguing in favor of this would have to explain how a quadripedal creature evolving in isolation on the island of Madagascar for the last 60 million years made it to the Americas. [13] Hmm…I think I’ll just stick with Matilda being a Chewbacca mask.
________________________________________

Update: 2-28-13:

It turns out that George Lucas initially conceived of Chewbacca as a lemur. Ralph McQuarrie, lead concept designer of the Star Wars trilogy, remembers:

George thought of [Chewbacca] as looking like a lemur with fur over his whole body and a big huge apelike figure. I took another track, added an ammunition bandolier and put a rifle in his hands. I had shorts on him and a flak jacket and all kinds of gear, but that was edited out.” [14]

Here is an early concept drawing of Chewbacca from 1975. It looks a lot like the lemur picture from above:

(Click here for a larger picture.)

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Update 3-1-13:

The investigative journalist Linda Moulton Howe recently (2-26-13) appeared on the Sasquatch Watch Canada podcast to play recordings of the interview that she did with Ketchum on February 14, 2013, the day after she self-published her DNA study in her Denovo Scientific Journal. Early in the interview, Howe asks her which primate best fits the DNA profile for the unknown male progenitor of the Bigfoot species. Ketchum replies:

It’s headed a little more towards the lemur line, oddly enough. It is definitely not an ape. And it’s interesting that we found out there is an extinct lemur that weighed four or five hundred pounds. And also they have opposable thumbs and hooded noses. It really freaked me out that we had lemur. I didn’t expect that. [laughs]

She thinks Bigfoot is part human and part lemur. You can’t make this stuff up, folks! As I mentioned in my original post, lemurs have been evolving in isolation on the island of Madagascar for 60 million years. How then did one of the large extinct varieties make its way to the Americas? Most importantly, lemurs represent a more ancient line of the primate species. After the Strepsirrhini and Haplorhini (“dry nose”) separated, the latter group diverged several more times. The ape and old world monkey lines split from the new world monkey 35 million years ago (MYA), apes split from the old world monkeys 25 MYA, the great apes split from the gibbon 15-19 MYA, the lines that would become chimps and humans split from orangutans 13-16 MYA, and humans split from chimps 5-7 MYA. [15] Chimps remain our closest living relatives, sharing nearly 99% of our DNA. [16] Yet, we can’t mate with them because of a difference in our respective chromosome numbers. They have 48 chromosomes, while we have 46 (the result of our chromosome #2 fusing at some point in our evolution). We can’t mate with lemurs because our genetics have changed too much over the tens of millions of years since our lines diverged. Ring-tailed lemurs, for example, have 56 chromosomes. [17] How then did this unknown primate with lemur-like DNA mate with human women 15,000 years ago?

The Bigfoot Evidence blog recently reported that an anonymous commenter claimed to be the person who wore the Matilda suit. Here are the two comments they left:

Anonymous Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:55:00 PM PST

I am the person that wore the matilda wookie suit. I signed an agreement stating that I would not talk about it, but that was years ago and I figure it’s run out by now anyway.

We got some hair die and colored all of the fur on the costume. Then we took combs and teased it to make it look more natural. There’s a lot more video than the few that have been seen.

Erickson knew nothing about it being a hoax, neither did that biologist girl. Dave was in on it though, he even helped me put the suit on. There were a lot of videos destroyed because they weren’t good enough and we didn’t want them to be found. [18]

Anonymous Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:12:00 AM PST

As I said yesterday, I was the person that wore the wookie suit. It was filmed in Crittenden, Ky. where I lived at the time. I now live in Grants Lick. I had to strap foam cushions to my arms, legs and torso, to fill in the suit. Dennis was the guy that filmed me.” [19]

The anonymous person seems to be shifting the blame from Adrian Erickson, the founder of the Erikson Project, to the project manager Dennis Pfohl (the “Dave” mentioned in the first comment is likely a typo). I’m not sure what to think of this. It could simply be a fake comment left by a troll, but it could also be real. But then this begs the question of whether the comment was posted to tell the truth or to take the heat off of Erickson by making Pfohl a patsy. I think the timing is a little too convenient. I find it hard to believe that anyone, especially the project biologist Dr. Leila Hadj-Chikh, would ever mistake the wookiee suit for being a living creature. If the comment is real, it seems like a cheap attempt at trying to salvage the project. Someone from the Erickson camp will probably come out in the next few days claiming that they had been fooled by a hoaxer. But then they will claim all of their other videos are authentic. Yah, authentic videos of people wearing wookiee suits.
________________________________________

Notes

[1] “Erickson Project: First Ever Photograph of Sasquatch Sleeping, Scientific Proof of Bigfoot to Come,” Bigfoot Evidence, http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2011/08/erickson-project-first-ever-photograph.html (accessed February 27, 2013).
[2] Robert Lindsay, “Interview with Richard Stubstad: Is Bigfoot Human?” Beyond Highbrow — Robert Lindsay, http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/interview-with-richard-stubstad-is-bigfoot-human/ (accessed February 27, 2013).
[3] “The Erickson Project Considering Pulling Out of Race? and Who Is Matilda? [bigfoot Rumor] (updated: Website Now Redirects to Godaddy.com),” Bigfoot Evidence, http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2011/11/erickson-project-considering-pulling.html (accessed February 27, 2013).
[4] My copy of her paper is a stripped down version with no pictures, but Ketchum’s comment on her Facebook page supports this. See note# 5.
[5] Melba Ketchum, “Facebook Post 2-25-13 at 10: 06 Pm,” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=552102348143500&id=359075637446173 (accessed February 27, 2013).
[6] “Breaking: Here’s the footage of Matilda [Bigfood DNA] (Updated),” Bigfoot Evidence, http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2013/02/breaking-heres-footage-of-matilda.html (accessed February 27, 2013).
[7] M. Godinot, “Lemuriform Origins as Viewed from the Fossil Record,” Folia Primatologica 77, no. 6 (2006): 459.
[8] Friderum Ankel-Simons, Primate Anatomy: An Introduction, 3d ed. (Amersterdam: Elsevier Academic Press, 2007), 392-94, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=186062 (accessed February 27, 2013).
[9] Noel Rowe, The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates (Charlestown, Rhode Island: Pogonias Press, 1996), 27.
[10] For instance, see this online article.
[11] Matt Cartmill and Fred H. Smith, The Human Lineage (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 91, http://public.eblib.com/EBLPublic/PublicView.do?ptiID=819141 (accessed February 27, 2013).
[12] L. R. Godfrey, and Jungers, W. L., “Chapter 7: Quaternary fossil lemurs,” In The Primate Fossil Record, ed. W.C. Hartwig, 97-121 (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 101. For the date of extinction, see Russell A. Mittermeier and Stephen D. Nash. Lemurs of Madagascar (Arlington, Va: Conservation International, 2010), 37 and 39.
[13] R.W. Sussman, Primate Ecology and Social Structure (NJ: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003), 107-148.
[14] Laurent Bouzereau, Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays : Star Wars–a New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1997), 44. It was quoted in this interesting article about the development of Chewbacca. The Animal Planet show Animal Icons did a Star Wars-themed episode where they talked about which earth animals influenced the creation of some of the film’s most memorable aliens. It briefly touches on Chewbacca’s connection to lemurs and orangutans. You can watch it here.
[15] Carlos G. Schrago and Claudia A. M. Russo, “Timing the Origin of New World Monkeys,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 20, no. 10 (2003): 1620-25, http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/10/1620.full.pdf+html (accessed March 1, 2013).
[16] A 2006 study shows this number is more like 94% when gene duplication and differences in protein function are taken into account. Nevertheless, chimps are still our closest relatives. See Jeffery P. Demuth et al., “The Evolution of Mammalian Gene Families,” PLoS ONE 1, no. 1 (December 20, 2006): page nr., http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0000085 (accessed March 1, 2013).
[17] Don E. Wilson and Elizabeth Hanlon, “Lemur Catta (primates: Lemuridae),” Mammalian Species 42, no. 854 (2010): 69, http://www.mammalsociety.org/uploads/Wilson%20and%20Hanlon%202010.pdf (accessed March 1, 2013).
[18] Vicki W., “Will the Real Matilda Please Stand Up?” Bigfoot Evidence, http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2013/03/will-real-matilda-please-stand-up.html (accessed March 1, 2013).
[19] Ibid.

Bibliography

Ankel-Simons, Friderum. Primate Anatomy: An Introduction. 3d ed. Amersterdam: Elsevier Academic Press, 2007. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=186062 (accessed February 27, 2013).

Bouzereau, Laurent. Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays : Star Wars–a New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi.. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.

“Breaking: Here’s the footage of Matilda [Bigfood DNA] (Updated).” Bigfoot Evidence. http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2013/02/breaking-heres-footage-of-matilda.html (accessed February 27, 2013).

Cartmill, Matt, and Fred H. Smith. The Human Lineage. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. http://public.eblib.com/EBLPublic/PublicView.do?ptiID=819141 (accessed February 27, 2013).

Demuth, Jeffery P., Tijl De Bie, Jason E. Stajich, Nello Cristianini, and Matthew W. Hahn. “The Evolution of Mammalian Gene Families.” PLoS ONE 1, no. 1 (December 20, 2006): page nr. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0000085 (accessed March 1, 2013).

“Erickson Project: First Ever Photograph of Sasquatch Sleeping, Scientific Proof of Bigfoot to Come.” Bigfoot Evidence. http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2011/08/erickson-project-first-ever-photograph.html (accessed February 27, 2013).

Godfrey, L. R., and Jungers, W. L. “Chapter 7: Quaternary fossil lemurs”. In The Primate Fossil Record, ed. W.C. Hartwig, 97-121. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Godinot, M. “Lemuriform Origins as Viewed from the Fossil Record.” Folia Primatologica 77, no. 6 (2006): 446-64.

Ketchum, Melba. “Facebook Post 2-25-13 at 10:06 Pm.” Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=552102348143500&id=359075637446173 (accessed February 27, 2013).

Lindsay, Robert. “Interview with Richard Stubstad: Is Bigfoot Human?” Beyond Highbrow — Robert Lindsay. http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/interview-with-richard-stubstad-is-bigfoot-human/ (accessed February 27, 2013).

Rowe, Noel. The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Charlestown, Rhode Island: Pogonias Press, 1996.

Schrago, Carlos G., and Claudia A. M. Russo. “Timing the Origin of New World Monkeys.” Molecular Biology and Evolution 20, no. 10 (2003): 1620-25. http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/10/1620.full.pdf+html (accessed March 1, 2013).

Sussman, R.W. Primate Ecology and Social Structure. NJ: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003.

“The Erickson Project Considering Pulling Out of Race? and Who Is Matilda? [bigfoot Rumor] (updated: Website Now Redirects to Godaddy.com).” Bigfoot Evidence. http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2011/11/erickson-project-considering-pulling.html (accessed February 27, 2013).

W., Vicki. “Will the Real Matilda Please Stand Up?” Bigfoot Evidence. http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2013/03/will-real-matilda-please-stand-up.html (accessed March 1, 2013).

Wilson, Don E., and Elizabeth Hanlon. “Lemur Catta (primates: Lemuridae).” Mammalian Species 42, no. 854 (2010): 58-74. http://www.mammalsociety.org/uploads/Wilson%20and%20Hanlon%202010.pdf (accessed March 1, 2013).


Melba Ketchum’s Bigfoot DNA Study: The Questionable Ethics Of Creating A Journal to Bypass Peer-Review

(Last update: 7-16-13)

On November 24, 2012, Dr. Melba Ketchum, a Texas veterinarian-turned-animal geneticist, released a statement to the press claiming that her 5 year DNA study had proven the existence of the legendary Bigfoot (a.k.a. Sasquatch). [1] According to the press release, “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.” [2] Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is housed in the energy-producing Mitochondrian organelles of a cell’s cytoplasm, and it is only passed matrilineally from mother to daughter. [3] Nuclear DNA is housed in the nucleus of a cell, and it is passed on by both the mother and the father. [4] Therefore, Ketchum believes the “North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens” some 15,000 years ago. [5]

I first read about this on an NBC News Science Blog article entitled “Meet your Uncle Bigfoot: DNA report claims beast part human.” My blog entry “Bigfoot is my cousin, not my uncle” discussed negative comments left in the comments section of the article decrying the author Benjamin Radford’s skeptical treatment of the subject. Since then, I’ve been updating my blog with information about the questionable origins of the hair and skin samples used in the study, reports of possible rejections of the paper from science journals, and possible ulterior motives for self-promoting the study, such as Ketchum needing money to pay off debts due to her failing genetics business. Apart from doing a coast-to-coast AM radio interview in late December, Ketchum remained quiet about the details of the peer-review process. She was so silent that I figured her mouth had written a check her study couldn’t cash. Then, a few days ago on February 12, 2013, Ketchum posted “BUCKLE UP!!!!” on her Facebook page.[6] I predicted on my aforementioned blog post that three things would probably happen: 1) nothing; 2) she would publish her study in a third rate popular science magazine with very loose submission standards and no connection to any respected scientific organization; or 3) she would publish it online, most likely on a blog. I chose number 3 for being the most likely since there were no previous reports of her paper passing peer-review. It turns out I was right.

Reports from various sources started pouring in on the evening of February 12 that her paper would be published in the Denovo Scientific Journal. [7] You may ask how my prediction was right if it is a science journal. Well, it’s not. I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find a single website mentioning it. That’s extremely strange since the names of respected journals are usually on the first page of results. I couldn’t even find it in my university’s expansive journal database. It seemed like the journal had just popped into existence recently. Then, later on the 12th, Nadia Moore, a biotech researcher with an interest in Bigfoot, used a domain tracker to discover the following information: [8]

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (GODADDY.COM) Domain Name: DENOVOJOURNAL.COM
Created on: 04-Feb-13
Expires on: 04-Feb-14 Last
Updated on: 04-Feb-13

This means the journal had only been created a little over a week prior to the announcement of Ketchum’s paper being published. This gave the impression that she had essentially created her own journal to self-publish her study. Many people were rightly outraged that she would do such a thing. However, on the morning of the 13th, Ketchum released a long statement on her Facebook page claiming that she had “encountered the worst scientific bias in the peer review process.” [9] She terms the situation the “Galileo effect,” basically likening herself to way the famous physicist and astronomer of that name was chastised by the scientific establishment for proposing a theory that contradicted the commonly held belief of the time (Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle Blog humorously points out this appeal to Galileo “rates a hefty 40 points on the physicists’ crackpot index.”) [10] Most importantly, Ketchum claims her paper actually passed the review of a journal she later purchased and renamed:

We did finally pass peer review with a relatively new journal. It took a fresh outlook on the part of the editors and their careful selection of reviewers with knowledge of next generation whole genome sequencing in order to pass. I have no idea who the reviewers were though I have the reviews. That was kept confidential as is the way journals handle peer reviews. That was only part of the delay and problems associated with publication though. After this journal agreed to publish the manuscript, their legal counsel advised them not to publish a manuscript on such a controversial subject as it would destroy the editors’ reputations (as it has already done to mine). I have documentation on all of this drama. So, rather than spend another five years just trying to find a journal to publish and hoping that decent, open minded reviewers would be chosen, we acquired the rights to this journal and renamed it so we would not lose the passing peer reviews that are expected by the public and the scientific community. Denovo, the new journal is aimed at offering not only more choices and better service to scientists wanting to submit a manuscript, but also reviewers and editors that will be fair, unlike the treatment we have received. We furthermore have adhered to all of the standards set here in the link below, especially since the entire review and agreement to publish was done at the previous journal:

http://publicationethics.org/case/editor-author-own-journal [11]

Ketchum cites the above webpage as a precedent for why it was ethical for her to publish in her own journal. It’s basically a dialogue between a person in the same situation and a representative of the Committee on Publication Ethics. The person claims the focus of the unnamed journal is so specialized that there is only a small handful of people that can peer-review the article. The rep tells them the only ethical way to go about doing that would be to divorce themself from the process. It is recommended that an associate editor send the article out for peer-review and a commentary describing the transparency of the process should be published along with the article if it passes muster. So, the initial situation may mirror that of Ketchum, but the person is clear in the beginning that their journal is well established with a history of publication and a listing in the MEDLINE archive. The journal she bought just popped into existence and has zero publications. The person has problems with peer-review because the subject is so specialized. However, Ketchum’s paper deals with animal and human DNA. I’m sure there are numerous qualified veterinarians, biologists, or geneticists who could have peer-reviewed the material, so she can’t pull the “obscurity card.” She has also failed to provide information detailing who she handed the peer-review process off to, and there doesn’t seem to be any transparency commentary to go along with her paper. Thus, the webpage doesn’t even come close to supporting her case, and to my mind, it actually makes her look worse.

Many people have continued to report on blogs and news articles that she published in her own journal because her study failed peer-review. This has apparently gotten on the nerves of one of Ketchum’s supporters, Chuck Prahl, the operator of the Bigfoot Buzz Blog. In this blog entry, Prahl is adamant that her study passed the review of a preexisting journal that was later advised by their lawyer not to publish it (as mentioned above). He provides proof that Ketchum actually acquired the rights of the journal via a screenshot from Zoobank, an open access website for registering current and newly discovered species. The image shows the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology was registered by Ketchum on January 9, 2013, several weeks before it was supposedly renamed to Denovo Scientific Journal. This seems like a pretty open and shut case, but there are several problems.

First, Ketchum registered the name of her article and her chosen scientific trinomial name for Bigfoot, Homo sapiens cognatus, on November 18, 2012, [12] well before she supposedly sent her paper off for peer-review. Second, anyone can apparently just make up the name of a journal when they decide to register a new article (screenshot). To show how easy it is to create an account and register any articles, I’ve taken the liberty of registering an article entitled “The Nocturnal Activities of Drunken Badgers (Taxidea ebrius).” It appears in the prestigious Journal of Imaginary Zoological Studies. The species name Taxidea ebrius literally means “Drunken Badger,” and you will be happy to know their range is “mostly wherever there is alcohol.” I don’t normally do stuff like this—my apologies to Zoobank—but I wanted to make a point. Someone who is willing to register a new species even before their paper has passed peer-review would probably not have any problem with creating the name of a journal out of thin air. The Zoobank entries for both of my mock journal and species have since then been taken down, so here are some screenshots:

Third, the Zoobank page for Ketchum’s paper says it was published on Scholastica. This is another open source website where you can create your own journal, describe its purpose, list your editorial board, etc. You also list contact information if people are interested in sending you stuff. Again, to show how easy it is to do this, I took the liberty of creating an actual journal page for the Journal of Imaginary Zoological Studies. The webpage is private (https), but here is a screen shot:

Fourth, people who create Scholastica journals can post calls for publications on WikiCFP. You can set deadlines for paper registration, submission, notification, and the final version. The WikiCFP page for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology has no dates accept for the final version, January 11, 2013. In fact, the submission deadline is “TBD” (to be determined). That seems fishy because people can’t submit papers if they don’t have due dates to go off of. The Scholastica journal is associated with an email account for a person named Casey Mullins. However, as I pointed out above, Ketchum registered the journal on Zoobank two days prior on January 9, 2013. Most importantly, I tried to reach Casey via their listed email (mullins_casey@ymail.com), but the email was returned with the following message: “This user doesn’t have a ymail account.” (screenshot) This leaves two possibilities, neither of which make Ketchum look good: 1) She happened upon a randomly created journal on the internet (that anyone can make) with zero publication history, submitted her paper to some random person with unknown credentials for review, and later purchased the freely created journal from the previous owner, or 2) she registered the journal on Zoobank (as the evidence shows), created the physical journal herself on Scholastica with fake information, and then later claimed she “purchased” it.

So here is a possible timeline:

  • She registers on Zoobank on October 25, 2012. [13]
  • She registers the name of her article and the Bigfoot species name on Zoobank on November 18, 2012.
  • She announces her findings to the media on November 24, 2012.
  • She registers the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on Zoobank on January 9, 2013.
  • She creates an online page for the journal on Scholastica on January 11, 2013.
  • She registers a webpage for her Denovo Scientific Journal on godaddy.com on February 4, 2013.
  • She publishes her paper on Denovo Scientific Journal and claims she “purchased” the original journal and renamed it on February 13, 2013.

If this is true, Ketchum clearly intended to cover her tracks by creating the first journal so she could say she later purchased it and renamed it. I would be willing to retract any of the statements I made above if she is willing to provide the documents that she claims to have proving the purchase of the journal actually took place.

The paper has been widely panned by scientists. For the best analysis, see John Timmer’s article “Bigfoot genome paper “conclusively proves” that Sasquatch is real” over at Ars Technica.
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Update 2-20-13:

Scholastica journals are private (https), so I was originally unable to see the first entry for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology. However, I used Google cache to find a snapshot of it. The date for the first entry is January 4, 2013, which sets the date back a week. I still stand by what I wrote about Ketchum creating the journal with fake information (unless she can prove Casey Mullins is a real person and was the original owner). So the amended possible timeline is:

  • She registers on Zoobank on October 25, 2012.
  • She registers the name of her article and the Bigfoot species name on Zoobank on November 18, 2012.
  • She announces her findings to the media on November 24, 2012.
  • She creates an online page for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on Scholastica on January 4, 2013.
  • She registers the journal on Zoobank on January 9, 2013.
  • She registers a webpage for her Denovo Scientific Journal on godaddy.com on February 4, 2013.
  • She publishes her paper on Denovo Scientific Journal and claims she “purchased” the original journal and renamed it on February 13, 2013.

Here is a screenshot since I think the page has been taken down. Hmm…how convenient.

________________________________________

Update 2-20-13 #2:

Smokey at the Over The Line, Smokey! Blog has been closely following the developments of this fiasco much longer than I have. His frequently updated article “Texas DNA specialist writes that Sasquatch is a modern human being. UPDATED 2/20/2013. That was 2010; now she says it’s a hybrid” is a must read for a deeper understanding of the situation. He recently contacted me because he was interested in expanding the timeline that I had created with another piece of evidence. Smokey has independently come to the same conclusions about Casey Mullins, their nonexistent email, and their call for papers on WikiCFP. It turns out there was one piece of the puzzle that I had missed. A person with the user name “Mullins casey” (Casey Mullins) submitted a request to Wikipedia to create an article for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on January 5, 2013, the day after the journal was first established on Scholastica. [15] Here is a screenshot just in case the cache page goes down:

This may not seem like a big thing, but it helps establish a recognizable pattern, one involving “jumping the gun.” It first starts on November 18, 2012 when Ketchum registers the name of her paper and the trinomial species name for Bigfoot on Zoobank even before her manuscript had been submitted for peer-review. Then, the day after the Journal is created on Scholastica, Casey Mullins tries to create a Wikipedia article for it on January 5, 2013. Finally, Ketchum registers the journal on Zoobank on January 9. If her story is to be believed, she contacted Mullins, sent him her paper, it went through several rounds of peer-review, he agreed to publish it but reneged at the last moment, and Ketchum decided to purchase the journal so she could publish her paper. All of this supposedly happened in 5 days. That’s pretty fast don’t you think? The peer-review process of the Plos ONE science journal, for instance, takes on average about a month given that there aren’t any problems. [16] That means either the newly established journal had a much larger pool of scholars to review papers in a much, much, much shorter time than well-established journals, or the story isn’t true. Again, the only other alternative is that Ketchum created her own journal to bypass peer-review. So here is the amended possible timeline:

  • She registers on Zoobank on October 25, 2012.
  • She registers the name of her article and the Bigfoot species name on Zoobank on November 18, 2012.
  • She announces her findings to the media on November 24, 2012.
  • She creates an online page for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on Scholastica on January 4, 2013.
  • She tries to create a Wikipedia article on the journal on January 5, 2013.
  • She registers the journal on Zoobank on January 9, 2013.
  • She registers a webpage for her Denovo Scientific Journal on godaddy.com on February 4, 2013.
  • She publishes her paper on Denovo Scientific Journal and claims she “purchased” the original journal and renamed it on February 13, 2013.

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Update 2-23-13:

Smokey at the Over the line, Smokey! Blog has continued to search the web for any information on Casey Mullins. He hasn’t been able to find anyone in the genetics field with that name who would have been qualified to review a paper of this nature. It’s impossible to say without further evidence that Casey Mullins doesn’t exist, but the fake email and Ketchum’s lack of disclosure regarding the peer-review process is very suggestive. Her saying the paper was peer-reviewed is not the same as demonstrating it was. After all, she did say “I have documentation on all of this drama.” [17] Why not share it?

A few blogs have picked up my article since I first published it. For instance, Robert Lindsay mentioned it in his blog entry “Bigfoot News February 21, 2013.” Although he realizes there is no proof of her paper actually going through peer-review, he “support[s] Ketchum’s unethical behavior to the fullest.” He explains this is because:

She needed to get her paper out there, one way or the other, by hook or by crook, and she did it. If she had to bypass peer review in order to do that, so be it. It’s being reviewed by her peers right now in the media anyway. It’s obvious that mainstream science simply refused to look at her data in a fair way. There was no way on Earth they were going to publish an article on Bigfoot DNA, no matter what it said or who wrote it. If that’s the way they were going to be about it, then peer review needed to be bypassed. [18]

We don’t know that the scientific community refused to review her paper because, again, she hasn’t provided any evidence. All we have to go on is her word. The fact that so many scientists are now jumping at the chance to look over her research is an additional piece of evidence that suggests she may not have submitted it in the first place.

This disdain for the scientific establishment is, I feel, indicative of the views of the more fundamentalist Bigfooters. The reason I say this is because they remind me of creationists so much. The following scenario will illustrate what I mean. Say there is a scientist claiming to have found irrefutable proof of the existence of the Christian god. He self-publishes in his own journal because mainstream publications reject his paper due to some perceived scientific bias. What do you think creationists would do in this situation? They would rally en masse behind this scientist, promote a conspiracy theory that mainstream scientists are trying to cover up the truth, and even applaud him for sidestepping the obviously biased peer-review process. The fact that he sells his paper online for $30 is rationalized as being acceptable because of the time and money the scientist put into his research. But what if the scenario was reversed? Say there is a scientist claiming to have found irrefutable evidence that the Christian god does not exist. She self-publishes in her own journal because the topic is too controversial for mainstream publications. What do you think creationists would do in this situation? They would damn the paper because it was self-published in the author’s own journal, basically invoking the importance of peer-review. They would also dismiss the findings as the work of an atheist. The fact that she sells her paper for $30 online is rationalized as being just pure greed. Now, replace “God” with “Bigfoot,” “creationist” with “Bigfooter,” and “atheist” with “skeptic” in these scenarios and you can see where I’m coming from. These fundamentalist Bigfooters will support anything that supports their beliefs and reject anything that doesn’t. Thus, Melba Ketchum has become the new Michael Behe.

Lastly, four things have recently come to my attention. First, Ketchum claims her study took five years. This means she probably started it around 2007 since it was first widely promoted late last year. The first year of a five year study is obviously not going to be the time that someone comes to any major conclusions, but, according to the US Copyright Office, Ketchum began a book intended to be made into a film called Sasquatch: The Tribe Revealed on April 7, 2008. She copyrighted the name of this project on September 16, 2010. [19] The projected publication date was February 15, 2012, but the book obviously hasn’t come out yet. This fits in with what I discussed in an earlier update about a recognizable pattern of “jumping the gun.” Second, according to Tyler Huggins, Ketchum’s study had used bits of an unidentified hide provided to her by Justin Smeja, a hunter claiming to have shot a Bigfoot. Huggins sent samples of the same material to the genetics lab of Trent University in Canada for independent analysis. The results returned both bear and human DNA, meaning the sample was actually misidentified bear hide that had been contaminated by Smeja when he collected it incorrectly (screenshot). Third, Huggins posted material about his findings on a Bigfoot Forums thread entitled “Release Of Forensic Dna Results For Sierra Kills Sample” on December 26, 2012 at 11:07 am. [20] Then, roughly three and half hours later, someone posted the following statement from Ketchum’s now defunct personal Facebook page: “In regards to information concerning Justin Smeja’s samples. [sic] We are not concerned and have no comment. We are confident in the samples we used. We have nothing to say on others samples, we have not worked with.” [21] It’s important to note that this happened a little over a week before the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology popped into existence. Forth, it was reported that Ketchum supposedly asked Smeja in January of this year to tamper with the hide when he would not agree to hand all of the material over to her. [22]

This new information allows for a broader picture of the situation to appear. It’s possible that Ketchum began this whole thing to profit from a book / documentary deal. Something (money/research issues?) caused the planned publication date of February 15, 2012 to be pushed back. She shortly thereafter started building a fan base on her “public figure” Facebook page that she created February 18, 2012. [23] She announced the results of her study on November 24, 2012, but Huggins’ post on December 26 would have greatly undermined the central thesis of her paper (as well as any future book deal). This may have caused her to create the back story about purchasing a preexisting journal in a desperate attempt to validate her study in the public eye. Claiming that it passed peer-review would naturally cast doubt on Huggins’ claims. Her request for Smeja to tamper with his hide shortly thereafter may have been apart of this same plan. It would have certainly made it impossible for other researchers to test whether or not the sample was contaminated bear hide, thus giving her a monopoly on the evidence.

Here is the fullest possible timeline to date:

  • She begins the project sometime in 2007.
  • She begins work on a book/documentary called Sasquatch: The Tribe Revealed on April 7, 2008.
  • She copyrights the book/documentary on September 16, 2010.
  • She copyrights two working titles of her paper on July 19 and September 12 of 2011. [24]
  • She creates a “public figure” page on Facebook on February 18, 2012.
  • She registers on Zoobank on October 25, 2012.
  • She registers the name of her article and the Bigfoot species name on Zoobank on November 18, 2012.
  • She announces her findings to the media on November 24, 2012.
  • Tyler Huggins posts material that threatens the validity of her study on December 26, 2012.
  • She posts a statement about Huggins’ research a few hours later on her old personal Facebook page the same day.
  • She creates an online page for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on Scholastica on January 4, 2013.
  • She tries to create a Wikipedia article on the journal on January 5, 2013.
  • She registers the journal on Zoobank on January 9, 2013.
  • She registers a webpage for her Denovo Scientific Journal on godaddy.com on February 4, 2013.
  • She publishes her paper on Denovo Scientific Journal and claims she “purchased” the original journal and renamed it on February 13, 2013.

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Update 3-1-13:

I have written a new article describing how a picture of a supposed bigfoot appearing in Ketchum’s paper was revealed to be a Chewbacca mask.

Also, Doubtful News recently revealed that at least one of the papers cited in the study was actually an April Fools joke written for biologists. In addition, they reported that an independent analysis of Ketchum’s samples turned up dog, cat, and bear DNA, thus pointing to widespread contamination.
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Update 3-4-13:

The definitive statement on the Justin Smeja saga has been published on the Sierra Kills Project blog run by Tyler Huggins, the science-minded Bigfoot enthusiast whose independent investigation discovered Ketchum had used contaminated samples in her DNA study. Smokey at the Over the line, Smokey! blog has continued to follow this story while I was busy with other projects. His research team discovered that components of the chemical cocktail that Ketchum unsuccessfully tried to get Smeja to administer to his hide is capable of breaking down the multiple sources of DNA and hybridizing them. In addition, Smokey was contacted by a loyal reader with access to Ketchum’s DNA sequencing data. The lemur result (described here) was “just the software grappling with the mixed up sequence.” [25] Basically, the software analyzing the data just spit out a result that best matched the contaminated sample with more than one source of DNA. But it is clear the sequence found both bear and human DNA. Finally, given that the study has been discredited by mainstream science, Smokey comments: “This is no longer a question on which actual, competent ethical scientists should waste their valuable time. In the opinion of OTL,S!, this is now more like a criminal investigation.” [26] I totally agree since the evidence suggests Ketchjm has not been truthful about the origins of the JAMEZ journal, the peer-review of her study, her request for Smeja to tamper with the hide, and the results of her study. The fact that she is profiting from the sale of her paper makes the situation worse.

The investigative journalist Linda Moulton Howe recently (2-26-13) appeared on the Sasquatch Watch Canada podcast to play recordings of the interview that she did with Ketchum on February 14, 2013, the day after she self-published her DNA study in her Denovo Scientific Journal. Ketchum claims the reason she started the study was because she was approached by a TV show to analyze some samples for them:

The first thing that happened was this TV show Destination Truth came to us with some samples they had gotten that were potentially Yeti. At the same time, we got some samples from North American Bigfoot—that’s an organization out of California—and they had eyewitnesses attached to these samples they sent. And we got something kind of akin to what we got with the Yeti sample. This was very curious to me, so I moved forward and we decided actually to try to do something with this.

I thought Destination Truth might have approached her in 2007 when she supposedly first began the project. But it turns out she first appeared on the show on November 4, 2009 (season 3, episode 9), thus discrediting her claim that the study took five years. Ketchum appears in the last few minutes of the episode to describe the results of the Yeti hair sequencing:

I didn’t think we would have anything to talk about here to be honest. I was just going to rule out Yeti and be done with it. I submitted the sequence that we obtained from this hair sample to a large international database that scientists use to deposit their sequence data [Genbank]. Well, at first, I was very skeptical because we’ve had these things come into our lab in the past and they’ve never panned out to be anything interesting. However, this did test very clearly on the human panel of markers. That makes it a primate, and that makes it a large primate.

After being asked by the host if the results could have been caused by human contamination or if the hair could be human, Ketchum replies: “The hair, visually, is not human. It’s coarser than horse tail hair … Initial searches indicate that it’s an unknown sequence. There are literally millions of sequences in this database and we’re really shocked to find that it didn’t match any of the species exactly on the database.” What is most striking here is that the subject of contamination is completely disregarded. Also, her describing the hair as being “coarser than horse tail hair” is very interesting because the top left side of the monitor supposed to be showing the results of the hair sample sequence has the file name “HORSE SNP NEW 3.ppt.”

SNP, or “Single Nucleotide Polymorphism,” is a difference in a single base in the DNA of individual members of a species. Ketchum’s DNA Diagnostic business uses this genetic marker in tests “to identify, parent verify, sex, diagnose genetic disease and define desirable traits like color” in dogs, cats, and horses. [27] It’s possible the production team just asked Ketchum to pull up a random SNP test so they could have something “sciency” to show the viewers. However, it’s also possible that the sample they gave her was actually horse hair.

The hair sample.

It was found in a tree, so it could have easily fallen out of the nest of a bird. Several species of bird are known to use horse hair to construct and or line their nests. For instance, the Chipping Sparrow was once known as the “hairbird” because its primary nest building material was horse hair. [28] The primate DNA could have simply been the result of contamination by the people who collected it or the owner of the horse. Having said that, it’s possible Ketchum knew it was horse hair all along given the aforementioned lemur results from above clearly showed bear and human DNA.

If this is true, why would Ketchum give the show false results? Well, for one, they used her as a consultant on a second episode that aired on March 31, 2010 (season 3, episode 12). This second appearance on TV may have caused her to initiate her study because it was around this time that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) started receiving a slew of complaints about her DNA Diagnostic business not rendering services paid for. The complaints continued through the rest of the year. This suggests that her attention may have been focused elsewhere. On August 28, she appeared on a coast-to-coast AM radio show promoting her study and asking for Bigfoot samples to be sent to her. A few weeks later, she copyrighted the name of her unfinished book/documentary Sasquatch: The Tribe Revealed on September 19. As described in an earlier update, the copyright page says she started this in April of 2008, but this could just be a made up date. This suggests that she had already come to her final conclusions by the end of 2010. The last two years have probably just been spent writing and hyping the paper.

Here is the fullest possible timeline to date:

  • She appears on the TV show Destination Truth on November 4, 2009.
  • She appears on the show for a second time on March 31, 2010.
  • She does the first of many radio interviews promoting her study on August 28, 2010.
  • She copyrights the book/documentary Sasquatch: The Tribe Revealed on September 16, 2010.
  • She copyrights two working titles of her paper on July 19 and September 12 of 2011. [24]
  • She creates a “public figure” page on Facebook on February 18, 2012.
  • She registers on Zoobank on October 25, 2012.
  • She registers the name of her article and the Bigfoot species name on Zoobank on November 18, 2012.
  • She announces her findings to the media on November 24, 2012.
  • Tyler Huggins posts material that threatens the validity of her study on December 26, 2012.
  • She posts a statement about Huggins’ research a few hours later on her old personal Facebook page the same day.
  • She creates an online page for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on Scholastica on January 4, 2013.
  • She tries to create a Wikipedia article on the journal on January 5, 2013.
  • She registers the journal on Zoobank on January 9, 2013.
  • She registers a webpage for her Denovo Scientific Journal on godaddy.com on February 4, 2013.
  • She publishes her paper on Denovo Scientific Journal and claims she “purchased” the original journal and renamed it on February 13, 2013.

Ketchum recently did a radio interview with the Voice of Russia in which she refers to herself as an innovative researcher who is years ahead of the scientific establishment:

Yes, the modern science is not yet ready for it. There is so much hype surrounding it that the scientific community feels that the research cannot be credible. For most of the scientific world, the results of our study cannot be valid because they know that yeti does not exist and thus the project is merely a hoax, an ad campaign. As a result, the scientists did not even want to look through it. Their unwillingness to even consider the possibility that a mythical creature might actually be real might leads them to invent the reasons why our research was invalid.

Another reason why most of the scientific world turned their backs on our research is that the existence of hybrid DNA is a very unpopular theory, even though it is a proven scientific fact that most Caucasian individuals have at least two to three percent Neanderthal genes as well as a lot of South-East Asian people have up to five percent of Denisova genes.

Those reviewers who finally agreed to read the paper then came back to me asking for the information that was already in the manuscript, so I knew they did not even read it. Moreover, when the reviewers failed to find any errors in our research they simply asserted that it was ‘contaminated’. Given that most of our project team consisted of forensic scientists we are sure that there is no contamination in our research. In this sense, it seems to me that contamination is the only excuse that the reviewers can come up with to prevent the publication of our study.

More generally, one might recall that nearly all major breakthroughs in science have been met with great skepticism or immediately rejected as invalid. This why I call the situation in which we know find ourselves a ‘Galilio Effect’. Every-so-often innovative research projects are not accepted by the scientific community up until the scientist passes away.” [29]

Ketchum’s willingness to put herself in the spot light speaks to some deep seeded need to be famous. This is best illustrated by her comparing herself to Galileo, crying conspiracy, and mounting a popularity campaign on social networking sites like Facebook and in radio interviews instead of trying to convince mainstream science.
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Update 3-7-13:

The scholastica profile for the seemingly nonexistent Casey Mullins, the supposed editor of the journal Ketchum likely created but claims to have purchased, states that he is the editorial secretory of the Foundation for Advanced Zoological Exploration (FAZE). (screenshot) This is of course similar to the name of the fake Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology mentioned above. The foundation is probably also fake because it can’t be found on any college database. It had zero hits on Google for several weeks until yesterday. Smokey at the Over the line, Smokey! blog recently reported finding newly created twitter and blogger accounts for Mullins featuring information about said foundation. The blogger page presents three mission statements:

1) To encourage multidiciplinary research in Zoology including all areas of hominin behavior studies
2) To provide support of scientific writing, peer review, and publication of advance zoological studies in a peer reviewed scientific journal to be published by FAZE.
3) To support advanced research by field researchers outside of the walls of academia

Considering what I’ve written above about peer-review and fake journals, I feel confident in translating what the statements actually say:

  1. To encourage multidiciplinary research in Zoology including all areas of Bigfoot behavior studies.
  2. To provide support of pseudoscientific writing, non-peer review, and publication of advance zoological studies in a non-peer reviewed pseudoscientific journal to be published by FAZE.
  3. To support advanced research by amateur field researchers with zero scientific training who are active outside of the walls of academia.

No manner of flowery language can hide the obvious intent of this supposed foundation. Smokey’s take on it is spot on: “Is this to be the shell for the…next fake peer review in the next fake journal, which will be “bought”, renamed on…another cheesy website, to serve as the “scientific journal” for another…pseudoscientific white elephant of a paper, about the favorite color of an imaginary animal?” This “shell” is likely meant to support Ketchum’s story. It’s also interesting to point out that the foundation is a “Registered Entity in The Bahamas under the International Business Companies (IBC) Act of 1990.” Does this smell a little fishy to anyone? This shell could literally be a shell corporation. I’m sure Ketchum is raking in the cash from sales of her paper. I wonder what kind of taxes she will have to pay? Speaking of taxes…
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Update 3-10-13:

As I mentioned in my last update, twitter and blogger accounts for the seemingly nonexistent Casey Mullins have recently popped into existence. For someone who is supposedly not a sockpuppet of Melba Ketchum, Mullins sure has a hard time of showing his individuality in his twitter tweets. You’ve got a link to her Sasquatch Genome website, antagonistic statements towards her competitor Dr. Jeff Meldrum, a link to a website run by someone claiming to have discovered some of the samples used in her study, a link to her Denovo journal, a link to a blog discussion where Mullins talks about her, and statements about publishing material on “hominin [i.e., Bigfoot] behavior and culture.” What’s funny about the blog discussion is that he gets called out for having a connection to Ketchum. User JustAskin asks: “‘Casey Mullins’ that name rings a bell. You didnt [sic] happen to sell a journal to a certain texas vet?” I find it hard to believe that the former editor and owner of a journal that published a controversial paper would act like the sale never happened, yet routinely promote Ketchum like a true fanboy.

I suggested in my 3-4-13 update that Ketchum came to her final conclusions as far back as late 2010. I have found additional evidence to support this. First—this one is actually old news—Justin Smeja submitted the bear hide to her for analysis in late November of 2010. [31] Second, her Sasquatch Genome website was first created on February 27, 2011:

Domain ID:D161628849-LROR
Domain Name:SASQUATCHGENOMEPROJECT.ORG
Created On:27-Feb-2011 19:58:43 UTC
Last Updated On:04-Mar-2013 23:02:40 UTC

This is yet another example of Ketchum “jumping the gun” before her research had a chance to be peer-reviewed. Here is the fullest possible timeline to date:

  • She appears on the TV show Destination Truth on November 4, 2009.
  • She appears on the show for a second time on March 31, 2010.
  • She does the first of many radio interviews promoting her study on August 28, 2010.
  • She copyrights the book/documentary Sasquatch: The Tribe Revealed on September 16, 2010.
  • Justin Smeja submits samples of the bear hide to her in late November of 2010.
  • She creates her Sasquatch Genome website on February 27, 2011.
  • She copyrights two working titles of her paper on July 19 and September 12 of 2011. [24]
  • She creates a “public figure” page on Facebook on February 18, 2012.
  • She registers on Zoobank on October 25, 2012.
  • She registers the name of her article and the Bigfoot species name on Zoobank on November 18, 2012.
  • She announces her findings to the media on November 24, 2012.
  • Tyler Huggins posts material that threatens the validity of her study on December 26, 2012.
  • She posts a statement about Huggins’ research a few hours later on her old personal Facebook page the same day.
  • She creates an online page for the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology on Scholastica on January 4, 2013.
  • She tries to create a Wikipedia article on the journal on January 5, 2013.
  • She registers the journal on Zoobank on January 9, 2013.
  • She registers a webpage for her Denovo Scientific Journal on godaddy.com on February 4, 2013.
  • She publishes her paper on Denovo Scientific Journal and claims she “purchased” the original journal and renamed it on February 13, 2013.

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Update 3-11-13:

It turns out Ketchum has a profile page on Scholastica, the website that originally hosted the fake Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology (JAMEZ). There is no date on it, and the furthest the web cache for the page goes back is March 7, but it shows she had a journal on the site at one time. I would be willing to bet it predates Casey Mullins’ profile and JAMEZ. It probably hasn’t been updated in a while because it still has her DNA Diagnostic business listed. You’d think that she would have changed it to her genome project website if she still actively used her Scholastica account. I’m guessing she deleted the original journal so she could set up JAMEZ under the Casey Mullins pseudonym. The reason her profile still exists is because Scholastica “retain[s] residual information in [their] backup and/or archival copies of [their] database” for some time even after a person deletes their account. Here is a screenshot of her profile just in case they finally remove it from the archive:

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Update 7-16-13:

I haven’t been following the Bigfoot scene for a while since Ketchum disappeared after her paper failed to make waves. I do know that she has transitioned into the world of “alien DNA” thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Over the line, Smokey! blog (see his most recent updates). However, she recently appeared in the news again because the Houston Chronicle‘s Eric Berger reported (July 1st) that he had had her samples independently tested by a geneticist and the results showed Opossum DNA. Ketchum apparently didn’t like this, so she posted a rant on her Facebook page (July 2nd) about the cursory nature of the analysis and the unprofessionalism of the scientists who conducted it. She also gave reasons as to why she thought they had supposedly hurried through the testing:

“This leads to a couple of possibilities. One, there is a conspiracy to suppress our findings. Two, they just didn’t care and didn’t believe that there is even the possibility that Sasquatch exists and therefore just wanted to be done with it because they had other projects. Three, they themselves suppressed it for fear that their careers would be damaged.”

Notice how the very first choice is a conspiracy theory. Notice also how not one of the choices was “It didn’t take them long to find out that my original method was flawed.” It’s always everyone else’s fault and not her own. Berger responded a few days later (July 5th) and reported that Ketchum was the one who had originally approached him. They made a deal that he would back her work if the testing came back in her favor. It obviously did not, hence her talk about conspiracy.

Regarding her journal, there are some new “old” things to report. By this I mean stuff that happened months ago only just now came to my attention. Firstly, since the publishing of her paper in De Novo, no other issues of this journal have come out. Most journals publish monthly, meaning that there should have been issues for March, April, May, June, and July if De Novo was a real publication. This is yet more proof that it was created solely for vanity publishing. Second, it turns out that Ketchum did at least try to get her train wreck of a paper published in a real journal. Back in March, the vertebrate paleontologist Darren Naish admitted on episode 3 of his “Tetrapod Zoology Podcast” (minute 72:34) that he had been one of the reviewers of an earlier version of her paper. Although he doesn’t say which journal, Sharon Hill states in the comment section of this article that it was Nature. This is what he had to say:

“The reason it failed in review isn’t because of a conspiracy against the existence of Sasquatch—which is not because the many experts who reviewed it were blinkered, or biased, or anything like that—it’s because it just did not meet the standards that are expected for a paper making such bold claims.”

He went on to say that many experts in the field were hoping the material was true, so they approached the paper with open minds. It’s just that the paper did not support the claims Ketchum made. In fact, the paper was so bad that it was recently torn to shreds (atomized would be a better term) by John Timmer over at Ars Technica. A closed casket funeral will be held for the paper this coming Friday at 5pm. All gifts and donations should be forwarded to Melba Ketchum via her Facebook page.
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Notes and Bibliography (see here)