Sasquatch Coffee

Matt Moneymaker on Sasquatch DNA Project

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on December 4th, 2011

Matt Moneymaker posted the following here at Cryptomundo as a comment on the post: Melba Ketchum: Sasquatch DNA Project Update.

I felt that what Matt has to say about the subject was significant enough to warrant a separate post.

Heard from a reliable source connected with an article reviewer for Nature (a major science journal published in the UK) that the Ketchum paper was handed back (i.e. not *rejected*) for several reasons.

One of the reasons: The paper “does not contain a testable hypothesis”.

Not that the paper writers forgot to include something … It’s apparently more an issue of what is, and what is not, “testable” … and it’s a very technical matter that may not be resolved any time soon …

Supposedly that’s just one problem with the paper … There are more: The writers were very obviously “not zoologists” but they needed to be for a paper like this.

There is an undeniable silver-lining to this situation though: The paper was submitted to a major scientific journal and was under serious review by several top shelf scientists around the world. Hence, many elites of the scientific world are having serious discussions about the bigfoot/sasquatch topic for the very first time. Those elites are considering the issue of DNA trace evidence (from hair, blood, skin, etc.) sufficing as solid evidence to establish the existence of the species.

I do believe a wheel has been set in motion that was not in motion before. There’s a growing awareness among scientists that there is private funding available for a top-shelf, A-team effort to prove the existence of the species through DNA evidence. Thus, if Ketchum can’t produce a publishable journal paper about her own work, for whatever reason, there will be some highly qualified scientists who will be willing to jump in at this stage. IMO that was the threshold that needed to be crossed.Matt Moneymaker

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


26 Responses to “Matt Moneymaker on Sasquatch DNA Project”

  1. Lisa A. Shiel responds:

    It’s impossible to make any kind of judgment about the claims made in this case based on rumors and the vague statements made by those apparently involved in the study. However, everyone needs to realize that DNA alone will not prove the existence of any animal. Even a “tissue sample” is not enough. Science requires a body — a complete body, dead or alive — and probably more than one.

    Saying you’ve got a body but refusing to show it to the scientific community won’t suffice either, especially with respect to a creature like Bigfoot. Its existence will never be proven without a complete specimen — and the involvement of numerous skeptical scientists.

    Lisa A. Shiel
    author of Backyard Bigfoot

  2. slappy responds:

    all i can offer is that this is what happens when people who are not researchers or serious scientists pretend to be. ketchum is not a research scientist and there is no way whatever she did could pass the muster of a serious journal like Nature.

    if bigfoot research is to be taken seriously, it needs to be performed by serious scientists under the rigor demanded by those who will review the work. this entire situation unfortunately seems like amateur hour. sorry.

  3. Redrose999 responds:

    LOL my husband does this sort of technical writing for a living. Ok it is with machines, but he has a huge biological background here, raised by a biology teacher, and the man who did most of the major Karner Blue/tending ant research in the NYS. He tells me he has also written scientific papers of this nature as well.

    He says such a paper would trivial. If Katchum wants, she could let Ryk take a crack at it!

  4. norman-uk responds:

    Lisa

    It is possible to have a provisional opinion about the claims made by Dr Melba Ketchum and speculate on them this doesnt have to be a judgement! I don’t think she expects anything more and apparently is carrying on her research in an appropriate manner. She has faced some misguided impatience and criticism and maybe misinformation. She should not be blamed for that!

    You state positively that DNA alone will nor prove the existence of any animal. It may be difficult but not impossible where DNA is all there is but that situation is not likely. As DNA encodes fully for most animals even in that case it could be accepted if the code was understood, which it progressively is being so more and more.

    There has been an important new species proved recently by very little more than a shard of bone but from which DNA could be extracted and analysed by Svante Paabo’s group in leipzig. The new homnoid is Denesovan man. There was no good context for this discovery but what was of most and fundamental importance was the DNA result.

    In the case of Sasquatch there is a hugh body of evidence going back over hundreds if not thousands of years making a very good case out for it. The most appropriate hypothesis for which is that there is a real unknown manimal out there. The DNA is from blood or hair or tissue so in this sense has something at least equivalent to the denesovan bits of bone. These samples can be looked at in other ways than DNA, particularly the hair.

    The possibility of contamination of a DNA sample is an everyday hazard and strategies are available to deal with it. Of course its more difficult with similar species but can and has been done. The sample used for mapping neanderthal DNA was I understand contaminated by over 90% bacterial DNA but this was successfully dealt.

    I wonder where the rules can be found that state a body is essential to establish a new species? This seems to be a Victorian rule of thumb and was not strictly followed them. We are in the DNA age and it would be silly not to take full advantage of that and move on from Victorian conventions when doing so makes sense as it did with denesovan man!

    Serious scientists are in short supply in bigfoot research, I expect a lot of them would put there jobs at risk if they got involved. Those that do get involved are have a tendency to realise science has a case to answer as to why Sasquatch is not on its agenda as an amazing mystery and phenomenon. In my opinion there is a failure of science taking place.

  5. DWA responds:

    Lisa A. Shiel:

    Science does not need a complete body (and definitely would not need two). In fact, science does not need a body at all.

    A recent primate discovery – the kipunji or highland mangabey – was certified on the basis of a photographic holotype. No bones, no body. A picture. After the treatment the Patterson-Gimlin film has received from the scientific mainstream, i.e., mainly none at all, that will almost certainly not happen with the sasquatch. When disbelief is such that a moose or bear running bipedally is considered a suitable alternative explanation, OK not that bad but close, good luck with a picture, no matter how good it is.

    Although you are correct – as I have said many a time here – that DNA evidence is meaningless without a conclusive type specimen against which to compare, a body is most certainly not needed. If a single intact bone – especially a skull – or even a single tooth were found and turned in for examination, and then objectively analyzed (no slam-dunk there), it could be easily determined (1) primate and (2) conforming to no known species. Any scientist with a truly objective viewpoint would virtually have to concede a new species at that point.

    In the alternative, a relatively long-term field stakeout could yield evidence that would convince almost any scientist present; that might not be tantamount to the discovery but would likely be the breakthrough that led to it.

    And as to “skeptical” scientists, Jeff Meldrum would more than qualify; a reading of “Legend Meets Science” shows a man more than careful about any pronouncements he makes. John Bindernagel would be another. There are others. A scoftical scientist is what we want to avoid.

  6. todreynard responds:

    The problem with Moneymaker’s commentary is the same problem with Lindsay’s. Namely, these guys are recycling information that they can’t begin to understand and it comes across as crap. However, quite possibly, it’s all crap anyway, especially if the analysis really hinges on the MC1R gene.

  7. JMcLaren responds:

    If this rumor is correct, it doesn’t sound as if it means that much — a bit of good news, but nothing very big in either direction. “Sent back” but “not rejected” sounds like an invitation to revise and resubmit, a process through which most published articles in peer-reviewed journals pass. Much better than “rejected.”

  8. watn6789 responds:

    Where did the idea that Dr. Ketchum isn’t a researcher come from? Her credentials are extensive in that category. Check out her bio. Journals like Nature and Science are acclaimed for newer type ideas anyway. Derivative papers are for industry specific journals.

  9. Ragnar responds:

    As I recall, Moneymaker and his ilk have several times said they have proof. Time to pony it up and present it alongside the Ketchum evidence.

  10. Wendigo Truth Force responds:

    Much work to be done……

  11. Lisa A. Shiel responds:

    “Before anyone can claim a new species, however, they must have at least one specimen of it, and probably several.”–Zoologist Mark Siddall

    Comparing fossils to living animals is an apples to oranges situation. Besides, fossil species are never “proven” until there’s significant evidence for their existence. DNA is an interesting tool for comparison, but not proof of a species’ existence in and of itself.

    If proving Bigfoot’s existence is the goal, then science will require much more than singular DNA samples. Once folks understand this basic fact of science, then and only then will they have a ghost of a chance of obtaining the appropriate evidence.

    Lisa A. Shiel
    author of Backyard Bigfoot

  12. Lack of Evidence responds:

    I’ll bet my life savings, that no bigfoot body will ever be found. The only thing someone may find are wooden feet, an ape suit, or some grainy video that could be tree blowing in the wind.

    Anyone want to take me up on the offer?

  13. bobhelferstay responds:

    DNA will be plenty to prove the existence of these creatures once and for all.

    I don’t want to take what Moneymaker, or Lindsey says from their, “reliable sources” as fact.

  14. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    No Bigfoot body, no proof. This is one massive waste of time.

  15. DWA responds:

    Siddall is definitely not talking about a bipedal, gorilla-size or bigger primate in North America.

    He’s talking about species of the kind that are usually found: animals very similar to existing species, found where the existing species are also found, but differing enough to be classified as separate species. For a number of kinds of animals, a new species may require substantial enough evidence to clearly separate it from very closely related species. That won’t be an issue in this case, I wouldn’t think. Once a single specimen is found, and again it doesn’t have to be an intact specimen in this case, the designation of the species is a formality at most.

    Fossils, of any kind, are outside of this discussion. Their presence, or absence, say nothing about what is here now. (As any paleontologist can tell us, absence means nothing has been found…yet.) If found, they show nothing other than that something similar once lived. Now, if a fossil were found in North America, a reconstruction of which looks a lot like what people have been reporting in North America almost since the beginning of European colonization, that would be really interesting – indeed it would kick a critical prop out from under the skeptical argument – but it wouldn’t be proof of anything extant.

    And once again, DNA will not cut the mustard without a clearly identified type specimen. Which we will not have until the species is confirmed.

  16. DWA responds:

    When I reacted to “fossils” in Lisa’s post, I actually didn’t know where her take on “fossils” had come from, as I did not refer to them at all in my first post.

    When I refer to “a single intact bone,” I am not referring to a fossil at all, but a bone from a recently dead animal. One doesn’t come across these frequently, but it happens. In fact, a few sasquatch reports are of just such finds…which, of course, didn’t get brought back for analysis, for reasons which are understandable in the context of the account. But still. Anecdotes are anecdotes.

  17. JCMAN282000 responds:

    Ketchum has already said that they arent even using “Nature” to publish the paper. So, what are we to believe? She IS using Nature and and lied or is What Matt said here completely off base?

  18. Opalman responds:

    @watn6789 Ketchum’s credentials, as legitimate and impressive as they may be, are still not those of a serious researcher…much more a lab owner/specialist/technician. As DWA points out…big difference between her, and say, Dr. Meldrum; who could and should, with a gaggle of similarly credentialed researchers, mount just such a project.

    For those who read mine and others’ posts regarding the before last announcement by Ketchum and as well separate conclusions offered by Richard Stubstad (Cryptomundo; Sasquatch DNA Project Update) This was easily and accurately predicted.

    DWA—Regarding your opinion that a physical body is not needed or required for classification—I strongly disagree. One cannot compare the highland mangabey (Rungwecebus kipunji) with sasquatch. The mangabey’s discovery and taxonomic classification did not require the reordering (rewriting) of every evolutionary theory and paleoarcheological textbook. (thus proving the pompous overconfidence common in the typical —gist’s own mindset.)

    @norman-uk The human contamination is definitely a significant problem because in this case humans with 100% mtDNA are testing a hypothetical sasquatch sample believed to contain a high percentage (100%) of maternal (X-chromosome / mtDNA), which by cross comparison to other samples is believed to be 100% human genomes. Without a comparable known Y-chromosome sample from a validated specimen it is very difficult to sort things out with the very high certainty needed to prove sasquatch’s existence. I don’t think the example of Neanderthal DNA being contaminated by non-human bacterial elements is a valid comparison.

    @DWA A body part is not enough as there is no way (in the case of an unknown) to objectively prove what it came from. The entire conundrum reminds me of the book “The Bone Peddlers ‘s”; i.e. Paleontologist have been playing this game for a hundred years. “ we found this toenail in strata B therefore it must be from a phoniboneosaurus: circa Cretaceous —Strata B is of the Cretaceous period because it contains phoniboneosaurus toenails.” Good researchers recognize and avoid circular reasoning at all costs.

  19. norman-uk responds:

    Siddall’s expertise is in leeches and that experience doesn’t transfer to the situation with the acceptance of sasquatch as a new species. He does state that (in his opinion) a body is needed but clearly he is prepared to be flexible as the quote below indicates. Denesovan man has been identified by DNA where the specimen is a few bits of unremarkable bone not a body. Also the kipungi was apparently identified from a photograph and eyewitnesses.

    Here is the quote from Siddall

    ”But aren’t there some hard and fast rules for declaring a new species? Can’t we just agree on some set guidelines? Absolutely not, argued Siddall:

    The rules for naming a new species were established about a century ago, but if we used those rules today we couldn’t use confocal data and DNA because that technology didn’t exist. It would be an authoritarian code not authoritative. The rules of taxonomy have to be flexible in terms of data brought to bear, while still having basic guidelines.”

    In the case of sasquatch there his a huge amount of evidence and history which as a whole could be described as a body of evidence along with whatever samples or bits of it which are available, capable of being examined for characteristics other than DNA. Then there is the DNA, that wonderful substance encapsulating everything there is to know about its source. The statement by LS certainly condemns by faint praise its value in this situation

    ”DNA is an interesting tool for comparison, but not proof of a species’ existence in and of itself…..”

    In this day and age DNA is an almost miraculous tool to throw light on many natural mysteries, including species identification in appropriate cases even without the ideal of a body and indeed there is precedent.

  20. Bob K. responds:

    *sigh* As always, stay tuned. Don’t hold your breath, but nevertheless, stay tuned; you just never know.

  21. DWA responds:

    Opalman:

    You’re right. There is no need to compare kipunji with sasquatch. Kipunji was a MUCH dicier situation. I am frankly somewhat surprised that a photo holotype was accepted. That photo is blurrier than P/G. The sasquatch – unlike the kipunji – is so morphologically unlike anything else known to exist that a photo SHOULD be enough, if it was for kipunji. That P/G didn’t make nearly the waves it should have speaks to scientific pigheadedness and refusal to see what’s right there more than anything else. Now I’m not saying that P/G should have been enough, because I think photo holotypes a smelly precedent. I think that a severe standard should apply to photo holotypes, and I’m not sure kipunji met it, never mind sasquatch.

    That aside: I think that if the TBRC (the most likely candidate) or anyone else doing intensive research – the only ones with anything more than a lottery-winner’s chance of getting a good photo rendering – come up with good close-up photo or video, it will be fairly compelling, and will get numerous scientists, possibly the critical mass needed for confirmation, interested, proof or not.

    Now if you’re just saying that Scientific Pigheadedness Demands More, well, that’s on science. It’s one thing not to change your minds on a dime. But not showing a shade of interest in an “ape suit” into which a human doesn’t fit? That’s something entirely different. As scientists will retroactively acknowledge when (OK, if, which it might be at this rate) the sasquatch is confirmed.

    This discovery should not “require the reordering (rewriting) of every evolutionary theory and paleoarcheological textbook.” OK, maybe you stick a chapter in there. Maybe you add a limb to the evolutionary tree. But all will be OK with them ‘till that’s done. Ah, save it for the next edition, no big. There’s in all probability nothing contrary to any scientific holding (except “the sasquatch isn’t real”) going on here. The Giganto hypothesis is something that echoes what many species over time have done: expand their range as conditions warranted. The worldwide Miocene expansion of apes presages this one. We just missed one (at least) that managed to make it to the present day. Any random fossil find has a greater chance of reordering the world than the discovery of this animal, from a strictly scientific standpoint. People make this proposition out to be considerably more amazing incredible foltollooogical! than it really is.

    And a body part – including a tooth, or a bone or a fragment large enough to identify where on the subject it came from and the relative dimensions of the subject – is all that is needed. There is no requirement for one “to objectively prove what it came from.” But of course, one can, at least broadly. We and the aye-aye and the mandrill and the tarsier are all primates for a reason. If a part is found sufficiently intact to come back “primate” – and no current primate fits – you have a far different situation that with DNA testing, which can fail on a number of points. Having a physical shinbone-connected-to-the-kneebone is a far different animal, if no current shins and knees match. How else are fossil fragments turned into species? No else. That’s how it’s done.

    All we have for Gigantopithecus blacki – and you’ve seen all kinds of pictures of what “he looked like” – are a jawbone and about a suitcase full of teeth.

  22. DWA responds:

    Lack of Evidence:

    No it ain’t.

    No one who knows how much evidence there is would consider taking you up on your offer. Because even though the evidence says they’d collect from you, nothing is certain.

    If someone told me that I had to – it would have to be HAD to – bet MY life savings, up or down, on the existence of both sasquatch and yeti, I’d bet yes.

    Evidence is like that. Going against it is what’s crazy.

    I’d read up before you take that on. ‘Cause you need to.

  23. Mahalo X responds:

    The more I read, the less I believe these people’s credentials. Lots of regurgitated terminology, big words, blah, blah, blah…… I hope to god Bigfoot never falls into their hands, for the sake of the species!

  24. todreynard responds:

    Opalman – And Einstein was just a patent clerk!

    Still, it would take a broad coalition of experts (scientists) to get this published in a respectable journal.

    However, analysis of a tooth along with comparative DNA analysis based on material from said tooth wouldn’t be a bad place from which to start.

    The so-called “steak” is problematic as a biological specimen given it’s hazy provenance.

  25. choppedlow responds:

    Excuses excuses excuses. So far everything associated with The Erickson Project has been anything but revealing. What do people do when they finally realize that they are not going to meet everyones expectations? They drag it out, digging themselves into a deeper hole. I’d love to see that the project was everything they said it was going to be, but so far all they have leaked is excuses. That, and rumors of infighting, legal bumps in the road, financial failure, and a pic of a sleeping sasquatch snuggled peacefully under a tree.

  26. DWA responds:

    choppedlow: welcome to the weird wonderland of Not-Science, where this is standard operating procedure.

    We’re going to see the discovery – if we ever do – thanks to long, hard, dogged field work, that hardly anyone will hear a word about before the proof is in.

    Watch.

    If it happens, of course. Don’t hold your breath.



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