It’s no joke. Melba S. Ketchum, DVM, the director of DNA Diagnostics Inc. in Timpson, Texas, says she has proof that the mysterious Sasquatch exists in North America.
A study led by Dr. Ketchum and reportedly under peer review found that Bigfoot is a distinct 15,000-year-old species that is a cross between modern Homo sapiens and unknown primates.
The five-year study used DNA sequencing and involved experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology whom Ketchum did not identify.
"Sasquatch nuclear DNA is incredibly novel and not at all what we had expected,” she said in a news release distributed Monday. "While it has human nuclear DNA within its genome, there are also distinctly nonhuman, nonarchaic hominin and nonape sequences.
"Further study is needed and is ongoing to better characterize and understand Sasquatch nuclear DNA.”
The study sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes to obtain three complete nuclear genomes from alleged Sasquatch samples, Ketchum said.
"The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch [mitochondreal DNA] is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch [nuclear DNA] is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species,” she added. "Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.”
The report of Bigfoot’s existence is going viral, with ABC-TV’s "Good Morning America” airing a story this week.
Ketchum, who told "Good Morning America” she was a Bigfoot skeptic before the study, called for the creature’s protection.
"Government at all levels must recognize them 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,” she said.
How has Bigfoot eluded capture?
"These are not just animals, these are a type of people,” she told the TV show. "They don't want to be seen, they don't want to be found.”
The study will be published and other details released after the peer review, said Ketchum, who could not be reached to comment further.
While Ketchum admitted to past doubts about the existence of Bigfoot, she has been outspoken about the topic. In August 2010 she went on "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory,” a national radio show that delves into paranormal phenomena and other mysteries, to talk about the testing of possible Bigfoot hair samples.
Observers outside the Bigfoot community aren’t convinced that the creature exists.
"Until I see the data, I am withholding judgment,” University of Wisconsin, Madison, anthropologist John Hawks wrote on his blog. "One benefit of the world of genetics as opposed to traditional anthropology: The original sequence data must be made available to the public. No data, no discovery.”
Benjamin Radford, a columnist with the website LiveScience.com, said, "If the data are good and the science is sound, any reputable science journal would jump at the chance to be the first to publish this groundbreaking information.
"Until then,” he added, "Ketchum has refused to let anyone else see her evidence.”
Ketchum, a 1978 graduate of Texas A&M University, has an active veterinary license, the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners confirmed. Ketchum served three terms as chair of the International Society for Animal Genetics Equine Genetics Standing Committee, according to her biography on the company website.
DNA Diagnostics, according to its website, specializes in human and animal forensics, human and animal paternity and parentage testing, disease diagnostics, trait tests, animal and human identity testing, species identification and sex determination.