Voice of Russia: Before we get into details, I would like to ask you how you came up with the idea to study bigfoot. At the very least, this is a very unusual choice of study for a serious geneticist.
Dr Melba Ketchum: Well, I must say that it came to me, I did not choose it. What we do in our laboratory is we perform species identification mostly for forensic use. However, over the years we have also been receiving samples that supposedly contained DNA of a Bigfoot or a Sasquatch. Five years ago one of the TV show production companies asked us to identify some samples one of which was allegedly a yeti sample. At the same time I also received the samples from North America Bigfoot Search Organization. We did not have enough DNA to go far with neither of the samples but we still got marginally interesting results. When the TV show aired we got a huge amount of calls from people who wanted to submit DNA samples to us, and, out of curiosity, we agreed. When we started testing them we realized that something might come out from this research. To tell you the truth, I did not believe in the existence of Sasquatch before we began our tests.
Voice of Russia: In your previous interviews you said that when you submitted your project for peer-review you encountered the worst scientific bias which you called the ‘Galileo Effect’. Some journals would not even read your manuscript when you sent them a pre-submission enquiry. In your opinion, why were you rejected by the mainstream scientific journals? Is it because the modern science is not yet ready for such ground-breaking research?
Dr Melba Ketchum: Yes, the modern science is not yet ready for it. There is so much hype surrounding it that the scientific community feels that the research cannot be credible. For most of the scientific world, the results of our study cannot be valid because they know that yeti does not exist and thus the project is merely a hoax, an ad campaign. As a result, the scientists did not even want to look through it. Their unwillingness to even consider the possibility that a mythical creature might actually be real might leads them to invent the reasons why our research was invalid.
Another reason why most of the scientific world turned their backs on our research is that the existence of hybrid DNA is a very unpopular theory, even though it is a proven scientific fact that most Caucasian individuals have at least two to three percent Neanderthal genes as well as a lot of South-East Asian people have up to five percent of Denisova genes.
Those reviewers who finally agreed to read the paper then came back to me asking for the information that was already in the manuscript, so I knew they did not even read it. Moreover, when the reviewers failed to find any errors in our research they simply asserted that it was ‘contaminated’. Given that most of our project team consisted of forensic scientists we are sure that there is no contamination in our research. In this sense, it seems to me that contamination is the only excuse that the reviewers can come up with to prevent the publication of our study.
More generally, one might recall that nearly all major breakthroughs in science have been met with great skepticism or immediately rejected as invalid. This why I call the situation in which we know find ourselves a ‘Galilio Effect’. Every-so-often innovative research projects are not accepted by the scientific community up until the scientist passes away.
Voice of Russia: Oh, I am sure this will not be the case with your research! So, your 5-year long DNA study confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species that reside in North America. Is there a possibility that these hybrids can be found somewhere else? In Russia, for example?
Dr Melba Ketchum: We actually have some Russian samples which we are currently studying. We are just at the beginning of the sequencing process but we believe that these DNA samples will have the same makeup as North American ones. In this sense, we think that Russian hybrids and North American Sasquatch are all related individuals. More generally, we believe that Bigfoot species can be found all over the world. Only in the United States there are over 30 thousand documented sightings of Sasquatch and probably three times more undocumented eyewitness testimonies. According to my Russian colleague Dr Igor Burtsev there are also numerous documented yeti sightings in Siberia.
Voice of Russia: Tell us a bit more about your methods of research. I heard that you used mitochondrial DNA that you obtained from leftover blueberry bagels eaten by a family of 10 bigfoot’s who live in Michigan.
Dr Melba Ketchum: Oh, this is not true! Admittedly, one can obtain a DNA sample from anything that an individual ate or chewed because saliva is a very good source of DNA, but we did not use any bagels. We made plastic containers where we placed a piece of food, such as chocolate. This way, we could ensure that only a creature that had ‘hands’ could gain access to the food. We then used food remnants as our DNA samples.
This is one of the very few methods that we can use to study Sasquatch. It is almost impossible, for example to get any photographic record or a body. Although, I must say that there is now a photographic record that will soon be released.
Voice of Russia: In your statement published last November you suggested that the government at all levels must recognize Sasquatch as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a ‘license’ to hunt, trap, or kill them. Can you elaborate on this?
Dr Melba Ketchum: Basically, Bigfoot are a particular type of people, so we do not want them hunted, harassed, or being chased through the woods. The wood is their home. They have a right to privacy. People should leave them alone. We are not asking the government to give them large areas of land or anything like that. Sasquatch do not need them – they live right under our noses and we do not see them.
Also, people should be aware that an encounter with a Sasquatch might not be as pleasant as they think. People should not be afraid of them but, at the same time, they should realize that if harassed, a Sasquatch can fight back. So, you might need to think twice before you argue with someone who is twice your size.
Voice of Russia: Taking into consideration all the obstacles that stand on your way in publishing your research, do you intend to continue your project?
Dr Melba Ketchum: First of all, the DNA sequencing is a very complicated technique and it might take years to go through it in full. So, yes, we do continue our research. Second of all, we intend to do a cultural assessment of Sasquatch. We aim to learn how Sasquatch behave and whether they have any specific rituals.