Posted by: Craig Woolheater on July 18th, 2014
Discovery News reached out to Matt Moneymaker of the BFRO regarding the Sykes’ DNA Study.
Below is the correspondence:
From: Discovery News Reporter
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 10:53 AM
Subject: Discovery News Query re. Royal Society Papers on Bigfoot
Dear BFRO Directors,
I am a senior correspondent for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel. I am preparing a piece on the new Royal Society papers, attached, concerning the DNA analysis of hairs attributed to Bigfoot, as well as to Yeti and anomalous primates. Please share your thoughts on the research, and whether or not you agree with the conclusions. What evidence now holds that Bigfoot exists? A prompt reply would be appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Hello Jennifer (senior correspondent for Discovery News),
This is Matt Moneymaker. I’m the president of the BFRO.
Here’s my opinion about the “Royal Society Papers on Bigfoot” which I shall refer to as “the Sykes study”:
The Sykes study is meaningless scientifically.
The actual DNA analysis by Sykes’ team was surely performed with the highest integrity and accuracy but the overall effort was already corrupted by that point. It was corrupted at the sample inclusion stage.
Note: The BFRO did not provide any of the North American samples, nor did we endorse those few samples from North America that were focused on in the associated TV program. None of the “bigfoot” samples that came from the US had a strong *credible* connection to a bigfoot sighting or some other credible corroborating evidence (i.e. footprints). The Asia samples had even weaker connections to Yetis.
Much of the DNA work on was directed at samples that were obviously from bears from the start, or were strongly suspected of being bear, or otherwise had a story attached that would provide better content for the well-hyped TV documentary.
Here’s part of the flimflam in the Royal Society paper attempting to whitewash the corruption at the sample inclusion stage:
“Of these 58 samples, two were excluded as being non-hair and only 37 of the remaining 56 samples were selected for DNA analysis. The 19 samples excluded from DNA analysis were so designated for a variety of reasons including budget constraints, prioritization of samples of particular historical interest and amount of material available. In this reduced sample, seven of the samples selected for sequencing yielded no DNA. However, all of the 30 samples that did yield DNA contained base-pair sequences that were 100% compatible with known mammal species, though in certain instances the hair sample was reported to have been obtained from a region well outside the species’ known geographical range.”
I could pull this apart all day long … It renders the whole study meaningless. According to this statement, some samples were excluded based on “prioritization of samples of particular historical interest”. That’s a clever way of saying a few samples provided better fodder for the TV documentary, and thus received most of the scientific attention.
Even before that point … “19 of the 57 samples” were “excluded” from the study because it would have taken much longer to find and/or extract sequence-able DNA … in most cases because there was a relatively small amount of material in the sample (i.e. only a few hairs in the sample … like MOST authentic bigfoot hair samples).
After that elimination round, seven (7) more samples yielded “no DNA at all.”
Hence, according to the study itself nearly half of the DNA samples came from species that could not be identified, because those samples did not yield a sufficient amount of DNA to be amplified and analyzed.
Most people don’t understand how it could be more difficult and more expensive to extract DNA from an authentic bigfoot hair sample, and thus why those samples would be more likely to be excluded.
One reason is related to the size of the hair sample (the number of hairs in the sample) and how that increases the difficulty in pulling DNA from the sample. A larger clump of hair will provide more DNA without much fuss, so a larger clump of hair is more likely to be included.
Bigfoot hair is not typically found in large clumps.
The other factor is the nearly non-existent medulla structure (the core of the hair that holds most of the DNA) in samples that have long been thought to be authentic bigfoot hair samples (none of which were included in the study).
If hairs of bigfoots have almost no medulla structure it will be much more difficult, and more time consuming, and thus more expensive, to extract sufficient DNA … unless there are hair follicles (roots) still attached that are relatively fresh.
For those reasons, any authentic bigfoot samples that might have been part of the original 57 samples available to Sykes … had a higher probability of being excluded.
The 30 samples that were included in the Sykes study were, for the most part, the ones that easily yielded DNA of known species. Most were hair samples with plenty of material (i.e. a lot of hair), provided by people who simply found a clump of hair in the woods and then wondered (or hoped) that the hair was from a bigfoot. I say “probably” without knowing the actual specifics of each sample because that’s USUALLY the case for most hair “possible bigfoot” hair samples that get sent to a scientist. It has always been that way. And those larger clumps of hair found in the woods have always come from animals that are much more numerous (e.g. bears), as one would expect.
Unfortunately there’s no way to know if ANY of the samples from North America had any connection with a credible witness who had a close encounter, during which the observer actually saw the bigfoot leave clump of hair behind.
Unless the sources and circumstances of each “bigfoot hair sample” were to be documented and released, I would assume the hair samples were simply found in the woods by layman finders who wondered if they could be bigfoot hairs … Nowhere is there documentation for how each non-excluded sample was collected. Again, none of the samples examined by Sykes came from the BFRO, nor did he ask for any from us.
I don’t want to pillory Sykes because I do believe, based on a close viewing of the documentary, that he was put in a difficult position. He was asked to perform a study that he was honestly interested in, and he was paid to perform that study, but with a budget and calendar that was destined to yield inconclusive results.
The important conclusion that SHOULD emphasized in the media right now:
NEARLY HALF OF THE SAMPLES IN THE SYKES STUDY COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED.
The ugly truth underlying the Sykes study is that the DNA samples were “prioritized” to help yield more conclusive results for a TV documentary. The Royal Society Paper had to be consistent with that TV documentary.
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.