Bryan Sykes Knows More than He’s Saying – And it’s Good News for Sasquatch Research

Posted by: Christopher Noël on November 17th, 2013

In light of the airing of “Bigfoot: The New Evidence” tonight on the National Geographic Channel, this article has been slightly revised.

by Christopher Noël


Though disappointing for North American Sasquatch researchers, and for students of the Yeti, tonight’s episode of “Bigfoot: The New Evidence,” on the National Geographic Channel, is quite another story when it comes to its analysis of the Russian Almasty.

The central mystery was Zana, a “wild woman” captured in the Caucasus Mountains in about 1850 and kept in captivity for several decades. She was described by multiple witnesses as being six foot six inches tall, very stoutly built, with a pronounced brow ridge and large, deep-set eyes. And here is the key detail: Except for her face, she was entirely covered in thick, reddish-brown hair.

During her lifetime, she bore at least four children by local men and the skull of a son, Khwit, has been recovered. From one of Khwit’s teeth, Professor Bryan Sykes was able to test a certain type of genetic material—mitochondrial DNA (or mtDNA)—that reveals only maternal ancestry. Khwit’s mtDNA must be identical to his mother’s, and hers identical to her mother’s, and so on, back through time. After enough generations have elapsed, however, one can notice mutations occurring.


As Professor Sykes explains in his excellent book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, the mutation rate for mtDNA is highly predictable, allowing researchers to determine quite accurately just how far back a given maternal line goes, and even generally where it came from, which group within the human evolutionary spread across our planet.

Another name for this mutation rate is the “molecular clock,” and over the past twenty years, genetic science has learned to read it with increasing refinement; indeed, customers can now have their mtDNA inexpensively analyzed in order to learn much about the history, and the geographical stomping ground, of their own distant ancestors.

But back to Bigfoot. In the most recent episode, Professor Sykes revealed that, thanks to the mtDNA recovered from her son’s tooth, the Zana mystery is partially solved: Her “people” came from southern Africa… but when? As if mtDNA does not famously enable us to determine exactly such an answer, Sykes ignores this angle altogether and shifts instead to a much cruder clue.

“Bryan noticed some unusual features on Khwit’s skull,” Mark Evans narrates, “very wide eye sockets and an elevated brow ridge that could suggest ancient, as opposed to modern, human origins. And he was starting to toy with a thought-provoking alternative notion.”

Sykes then shares it: “Maybe she isn’t an African of recent origin at all but one from a migration out of Africa many thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years ago, and she comes from a relict population.”

Now, let us take the full measure of this “speculation.” If true, it would mean nothing less than that Zana was a member of a pre-modern human group mistakenly thought to be extinct—precisely what many researchers have long pointed to as the origin story of Sasquatch itself (those researchers, anyway, who don’t place this creature in the “ape” category). Keep in mind, too, that Professor Sykes has the mtDNA results from Khwit’s tooth (a scientific paper on the topic is awaiting publication) and therefore already knows the answer to whether Zana hails from a modern or an ancient period of time.

Bryan Sykes is an extremely prudent man—a conservative, world-class scientific mind. Thus, he would not have allowed himself to speculate, on international television, that Zana may have derived from a relict line of ancient Homo sapiens if the mtDNA sequences did not support this very conclusion. (It’s a conclusion, incidentally, that falls right in line with Melba Ketchum’s mtDNA findings.) If his test results had demonstrated a modern origin for Zana, it would be highly irresponsible and out of character for him even to entertain such a radically divergent hypothesis.

And finally, if Zana was merely a modern person and not, in fact, a Sasquatch (or Alma, in the Russian context), then why was she (as described) a dead ringer for the figure in the Patterson-Gimlin Film—more than a century before anyone had laid eyes upon Patty?

Christopher Noël About Christopher Noël
Christopher Noël is the author of Sasquatch Rising 2013 and editor of the newly released anthology How Sasquatch Matters: Writers Respond to the New Natural Order. Christopher Noël holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Yale. Noël is a freelance editor ( and lives with his daughter in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

7 Responses to “Bryan Sykes Knows More than He’s Saying – And it’s Good News for Sasquatch Research”

  1. Daniel McCallister via Facebook responds:

    A solid article.

  2. Shawn Erwin via Facebook responds:

    There was a show that said the DNA was 100% human and some birth defect?Now it’s back and is this a new DNA study confused?

  3. Shawn Erwin via Facebook responds:

    Few years back

  4. alan borky responds:

    Christopher the mythologies of the world’re full of human-like but not quite human primordial figures called trolls giants etc etc t’whom various human heroes resort when in search of technology capable of dealing with other far more eldritch distinctly inhuman figures.

    Even the story of David’n’Goliath’s the story of a Stone Age kid goin’ up against a giant clad in the Iron Man technology of his day who due to some characteristic he grasps about the giant’s skull’s able t’take him out with one stone.

    The further archaeologists go back the more it’s becomin’ likely someone was usin’ fire spears mining sailing round the world before what we think of humans even emerged.

    An’ again this’s what the mythologies tell us the giant Prometheus conferred fire on his creation Man.

    The Nordic father of giants an’ monsters Loki whose name can mean both Fire an’ The Word is portrayed as an ingenius trickster figure who runs rings round ev’rybody till he’s punished by burial alive in the bowels of the Earth.

    In short Sykes observations on Zana an’ her children may well’ve begun the uncovering of an ongoing attrocity in which once noble races of highly creatives peoples were not only driven to the fringes of existence by a parallel race ie us capable of massively outbreeding them but right up to Zana if not sooner were being reduced to beasts fit only for rape.

  5. Goodfoot responds:

    Can I offer you some punctuation marks, or is it that you’re caught up in some sort of archaic literary tribute mode?

  6. Maqa responds:

    I wish we could listen to what others have to contribute without criticizing their style.

  7. Cryptoraptor responds:

    Can author Bryan Sykes explain why the publisher of his book “The Seven Daughters of Eve” decided to ‘not enable’ the text to voice feature on the Kindle version of his book?

    Given that I’m busy and it allows me to do other activities while I listen to the information in a book, “text to voice” is a deciding factor on whether I will buy a book or not.

    That goes for other authors as well. 😉

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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