Bigfoot — Big Fake?

14. Februar 2013 von Laborjournal

Gestern erschien nach über zweimonatiger scharfer Kontroverse das angekündigte Paper zur Genom-Entschlüsselung des legendären nordamerikanischen Waldmenschen, bekannt als „Bigfoot“ oder „Sasquatch“. Dies allerdings unter höchst zweifelhaften Umständen. Erstautorin Melba Ketchum veröffentlichte die Studie als einzigen Artikel der ersten Ausgabe eines völlig neuen Journals namens DeNovo — und erwarb im gleichen Atemzug sämtliche Rechte an der ganzen Zeitschrift. Dennoch beschwört Melba Ketchum, dass das Manuskript zuvor ein ordentliches Peer Review-Verfahren durchlaufen habe.

Den Artikel selbst muss man — trotz der Aussage des Journals, „Open Access“ agieren zu wollen — für mindestens 30 US-Dollar kaufen. Das haben wir nicht getan — ganz im Gegensatz zu dem US-Wissenschaftsautor Carl Zimmer, der bereits nach kurzer Inspektion des Artikels über seinen Twitter-Account urteilte:

The phylogeny in this #sasquatchgenome paper is incomprehensibly illegible & doesn’t seem to use any method I can recognize.

Zeitgleich nahmen sich einige „Computational Geneticists“ Sequenzfetzen aus der Veröffentlichung vor — und kamen zu dem Schluss, dass es sich um einen bunten DNA-Mix aus allen möglichen Spezies handelt. Konrad Karczewski von der Stanford University etwa twitterte:

A quick blast of some sequence is a mix of species DNA, some human, cat, rhesus, and… panda!?

Und David Baltrus von der University of Arizona ergänzte kurz darauf ebenfalls über Twitter:

I just found a piece of the sequence that best matches cow

Woraufhin Karczewski wiederum „konterte“:

Yeah, I saw horse when looking a bit more. Looks like generic mammal DNA.

Kein Wunder daher, dass viele sich dem vorläufigen Twitter-Fazit von Petar Stojanov vom Broad Institute des MIT in Boston anschließen:

#sasquatchgenome is one of the biggest scientific trolls in recent history.

Wir handeln wohl keineswegs voreilig, dass wir von Laborjournal uns diesem Urteil ebenfalls anschließen — und uns umgehend wieder handfesteren „Geschichten“ zuwenden. Wer mehr über den bisherigen Stand der „Bigfoot“-Hintergründe wissen möchte, den verweisen wir daher vertrauensvoll an folgende Links:




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4 Gedanken zu „Bigfoot — Big Fake?“

  1. Ralf Neumann sagt:


    Bis vor einer halben Stunde stand noch die unten folgende Pressemeldung von Melba Ketchum und dem Sasquatch Genomprojekt auf Eurekalert — jetzt ist sie weg:

    3 ‚Bigfoot‘ genomes sequenced in 5-year DNA study

    New research paper published today shows Homo sapiens/unknown hominin hybrid species extant in North America

    Dallas, Feb. 13–The multidisciplinary team of scientists, who on November 24, 2012 announced the results of their five-year long study of DNA samples from a novel hominin species, commonly known as „Bigfoot“ or „Sasquatch,“ publishes their peer-reviewed findings today in the DeNovo Journal of Science ( The study, which sequenced three whole Sasquatch nuclear genomes, shows that the legendary Sasquatch is extant in North America and is a human relative that arose approximately 13,000 years ago and is hypothesized to be a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with a novel primate species. A species name, Homo sapiens cognatus, has been applied for through ZooBank. „Cognatus,“ from the Latin „con“ (with) and „natus“ (born), means „blood relative.“

    The study, „Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies,“ was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology. The team, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of DNA Diagnostics in Nacogdoches, TX, included Dr. Pat Wojtkiecicz, Director of the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory; Ms. Aliece Watts of Integrated Forensic Laboratories in Euless, TX; Mr. David Spence, Trace Evidence Supervisor at Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences; Dr. Andreas K. Holzenburg, Director of the Microscopy & Imaging Center at Texas A&M University; Dr. Douglas G. Toler of Huguley Pathology Consultants in Fort Worth, TX; Dr. Thomas M. Prychitko of Helix Biological Laboratory in Michigan; Dr. Fan Zhang of the University of North Texas Health Science Center; and Sarah Bollinger, Ray Shoulders, and Ryan Smith of DNA Diagnostics.

    In total, 111 specimens of purported Sasquatch hair, blood, skin, and other tissue types were analyzed for the study. Samples were submitted by individuals and groups at 34 different hominin research sites in 14 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Ketchum’s team sequenced 20 whole and 10 partial mitochondrial genomes, as well as 3 whole nuclear genomes, from the samples.

    Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) comes from mitochondria, energy-producing organelles in the cellular cytoplasm, and is passed down on the maternal lineage across generations. Nuclear DNA (nuDNA) is the genetic information contained in the cell nucleus and is the equal combination of DNA from the parents of an individual.

    Initially a skeptic, Ketchum implemented strict protocols to ensure the scientific integrity of the study. DNA was extracted from samples using forensic procedures followed by screening of the samples to rule out contamination. Subsequently, the Q30 quality scores for all three genomes sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform were well above the average Q30 score of 85, indicating that the DNA used in the next generation sequencing was highly purified and originated from a single source for each of the three genomes sequenced. Prior to DNA testing, forensics experts examined the morphology of submitted hair samples against known human and animal samples.

    „We soon discovered that certain hair samples–which we would later identify as purported Sasquatch samples–had unique morphology distinguishing them from typical human and animal samples,“ says Ketchum. „Those hair samples that could not be identified as known animal or human were subsequently screened using DNA testing, beginning with sequencing of mitochondrial DNA followed by sequencing nuclear DNA to determine where these individuals fit in the ‚tree of life.'“

    After extensive forensic controls to prevent contamination, mtDNA testing of the Sasquatch samples yielded fully modern human profiles. Sixteen haplotypes indicating 100% homology with modern human mtDNA sequences were observed from 20 completed whole and 10 partial mitochondrial genomes. The human mtDNA results are consistent with previous, unrelated mtDNA tests of purported Sasquatch samples from other laboratories.

    Next-generation whole genome sequencing with the HiSeq 2000 platform by Illumina was performed at the University of Texas, Southwestern on one tissue sample, a saliva sample and one blood sample to produce 3 whole genomes. In contrast to the mtDNA which was unambiguously modern human, the Sasquatch nuDNA results were a mosaic of novel primate and human sequence.

    „While the three Sasquatch nuclear genomes aligned well with one another and showed significant homology to human chromosome 11, the Sasquatch genomes were novel and fell well outside of known ancient hominin as well as ape sequences,“ explains Ketchum. „Because some of the mtDNA haplogroups found in our Sasquatch samples originated as late as 13,000 years ago, we are hypothesizing that the Sasquatch are human hybrids, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.“

    Hominins are members of the taxonomic grouping Hominini, which includes all members of the genus Homo.

    At the time of publication, study and analysis of the Sasquatch genomes is ongoing through the Sasquatch Genome Project ( Further data will be presented as it becomes available. Dr. Ketchum is also launching the Global Sasquatch Foundation at, a research foundation dedicated to advancing public education and non-invasive study of the Sasquatch people, as well as the protection of their human rights.

    „Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies.“

    Authors: Ketchum MS, Wojtkiewicz PW, Watts AB, Spence DW, Holzenburg AK, Toler DG, Prychitko TM, Zhang F, Bollinger S, Shoulders R, Smith R. DeNovo. 15 February 2013.

    Specimens yielding DNA were obtained, purportedly from elusive hominins in North America called Sasquatch. Sequencing and genotyping were performed in addition to histopathologic and electron microscopic examination of a large tissue sample.

    Mitochondrial whole genomes were consistent with modern humans. In contrast, novel data were obtained when nuclear DNA was sequenced. Next generation whole genome sequencing was performed on three samples. Phylogeny trees generated showed homology to human chromosome 11 and to primate sequences. The data indicates that the Sasquatch has human mitochondrial DNA but possesses nuclear DNA that is a structural mosaic consisting of human and novel non-human DNA.

    Corresponding authors are Melba Ketchum ( and Aliece Watts (

    To learn more about the Sasquatch Genome Project, visit

  2. Ralf Neumann sagt:

    Wunderschön auch diese Parodie ebendieser Pressemeldung:

    Researchers sequence ancient giant aquatic lizard thing

    A team of 42 scientists, wizards and warlocks with expertise in genetics, monster hunting, and World of Warcraft have sequenced all 99 nuclear chromosomes from a novel species of giant lizard isolated in a loch in North Central Scotland. The study, “Complete genome sequence of an ancient giant aquatic lizard-monster-thing reveals insights into evolution and the environment”, which analysed data extracted from large amounts of faeces found adjacent to Loch Ness, appears in the first issue of “Contemporary Research And Practical Science” on April 1st….

    Weiter mit der Parodie auf opiniomics.

  3. Ralf Neumann sagt:

    Konrad Karczewskis Fazit via Twitter:

    More accurately, a genome they made up in a journal they made up. #sasquatchgenome

    Und daher verlässt er ebenfalls das sinkende Schiff:

    Ok, enough #sasquatchgenome for me. I think their 15 minutes of fame is up, given them too much attention already.

  4. Tobias Claren sagt:

    Es gibt eine ganze Reihe von Gentests die nur deshalb als „verunreinigt“ bezeichnet wurden, weil die mitochondriale DNA menschlich war.
    Auch wenn es zwei theoretisch mögliche Erklärungen dafür gibt, wird von vornherein ausgeschlossen dass vor X-tausend Jahren eine Kreuzung zwischen Mensch und wasauchimmer stattfand. Oft sind solche Kreuzungen unfruchtbar (wie männnliche Maultiere), aber das ist nicht zwingend so.
    Wen man wirklich glaubt dass es eine Verunreinigung gab, hätte man die DNA jedes Menschen zum Vergleich heranziehen müssen, der praktisch oder theoretisch Kontakt zum Probenmaterial hätte haben können.

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