Posted by: Guy Edwards on March 30th, 2013
Dr. Melba Kecthum is excited about new DNA extraction techniques
First thing first, although the headline of this post says Bigfoot DNA, obviously it is possible Bigfoot DNA. I always get emails about that, and while I appreciate that Bigfoot is an uncertainty to the world at large, which makes anything related to Bigfoot even more uncertain, it is a headline and all that uncertainty is implied by the very topic itself.
More to the point, Dr. Melba Ketchum announced she will be working on teeth and bone samples in pursuit of Bigfoot DNA. The technique she will be using is a technique taught to her from a Dr. Pat. According to Dr. Ketchum, Dr. Pat has never failed at getting DNA from bone and has developed the extraction techniques that have identified people for the military, including the soldiers buried in the Tomb of the Unknown.
She is even using robots! Read her announcement below:
We are working on teeth and bones….can’t wait to see if we hit pay dirt so to speak!!! Have a variety of samples…we shall see what we get….. Dr. Pat, my second author is amazing. Even the Armed Forces lab was using his extraction techniques last time I heard (You know, they identify bones from MIAs and other lost servicemen and even identified the person in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War). He taught me the technique, but he has the wonderful robots that make extractions more perfect than I could ever do manually. He has never failed to get DNA from bone. Even manually his techniques are SO fantastic that I was able to get usable DNA from cremated remains in two separate cases (one cat and one human) and I never thought we could do that, especially without robots. We recently extracted DNA from some 2000 year old tissue and hair and got good results (DNA profiles) using these extraction methods without having to amplify the DNA (WGA) or make a “library” like they did for the Neandertal and Denisovan hominins prior to sequencing. We have one sample that is highly degraded bone and it will be interesting if this will be the first time this extraction technique fails. I am betting on getting DNA though. The academics could sure learn a few things from forensic scientists about extracting good DNA from minimal samples and also how to determine if there is really contamination other than just assuming that there is… It is so awesome! I gotta love science!!!!Dr. Melba Ketchum
On a side note, the whole point of the Tomb of the Unknown is the anonymous soldiers represent any soldier that has died for us. For symbolic reasons we want them unknown. However there is a reason to identify them and the Washington Post does a good job explaining it.
Dr. Melba Ketchum has an interesting commentary regarding the distinction between forensic scientist and academic scientists. You can read her full announcement as well as short videos about one of the tooth samples at Bigfoot Lunch Club.