Friday, March 29, 2013

Melba Ketchum Continues Bigfoot DNA Research with Bones

Dr. Melba Kecthum is excited about new DNA extraction techniques
"One is from Dave Paulides since he has put that out publicly and another from Mike Rugg since he has also openly discussed it." --Dr. Melba Kectchum Responding to where did the bone samples come from.

Dr. Melba Ketchum announced she will be working on teeth and bone samples in pursuit of Bigfoot DNA. The technique she will be using is a technique taught to her from a Dr. Pat. According to Dr. Ketchum, Dr. Pat has never failed at getting DNA from bone and has developed the extraction techniques that have identified people for the military, including the soldiers buried in the Tomb of the Unknown.

As a side note, anonymity of the entombed soldier is key to the symbolism of the monument: since the identity is unknown, it could theoretically be the tomb of anyone who fell in service of the nation in question, and therefore serves as a monument to all of their sacrifices. Symbolism is great, but families their fallen identified and post-Vietnam soldiers may never be unknown again. You can read about the last identified soldier in this Washington Post article.

Getting back to Dr. Ketchum, she seems very excited about the techniques and makes a distinction between forensic scientist and academic scientist. Read an excerpt from her announcement on facebook  below.
[Dr. Pat] taught me the technique, but he has the wonderful robots that make extractions more perfect than I could ever do manually. He has never failed to get DNA from bone. Even manually his techniques are SO fantastic that I was able to get usable DNA from cremated remains in two separate cases (one cat and one human) and I never thought we could do that, especially without robots. We recently extracted DNA from some 2000 year old tissue and hair and got good results (DNA profiles) using these extraction methods without having to amplify the DNA (WGA) or make a "library" like they did for the Neandertal and Denisovan hominins prior to sequencing. We have one sample that is highly degraded bone and it will be interesting if this will be the first time this extraction technique fails. I am betting on getting DNA though. The academics could sure learn a few things from forensic scientists about extracting good DNA from minimal samples and also how to determine if there is really contamination other than just assuming that there is... It is so awesome! I gotta love science!!!!

We actually know quite a bit about the tooth from Mike Rugg. It is a fairly large molar, decidedly primate according to Mike and was found in 2002 during a shark tooth dig in Scotts Valley, California. You can watch Mike Rugg talk about the toothe in the video below.

CORRECTION: The initial version of this post claimed Dr. Pat has been responsible for identifying people for the military, more accurately Dr. Pat has been responsible for developing the extraction techniques that have identified people for the military. The post has been changed to reflect the correction.  


  1. I asked my dad, who worked for the FBI until his retirement (and met my mom who worked there also!). He said this would be fairly amazing as he does not believe any scientist can claim a 100% record. Degraded DNA is degraded. You can't "un degrade" it. You will get something, but is it good and sound? This is why most scientists working with DNA do not submit a sub par sample into a trial or use for evidence. Some samples just don't have viable DNA. To me, any such over the top trust in a method is wrong. You can get DNA, of some quality which could be poor quality. I think Ketchum should have had Dr.Pat do the samples. if she wants to fundraise to have such a high quality lab with a reputation of 100% DNA (which is unheard of from what I've learned from my dad, every lab has poor results, it's not the fault of the lab it's the fault of the sample)... well I'm willing to donate. Seriously, I would love Ketchum to pay Dr.Pat, and the lab with the incredible reputation (I'm thinking that Dr.Pat is probably saying "whoa, I never said we have 100% good DNA results") to have that lab do the DNA work, I'm willing to chip in. I'm not sure that Ketchum can do so well without robots and the years of experience. Plus, reputation. A lab with a top notch reputation, and I hope they would allow Ketchum to help or observe, would have results that people would respect. DNA is the future of Bigfoot research. Our group always carried a collection kit (I have one in my purse at all times). Other group members keep a kit in their trucks. One thing that is needed is a good Bigfoot article on how to collect a sample for DNA analysis. It's more than gloves and baggies! I'm all for good results, but when Ketchum claims this lab has never have a failure? hello? then that lab has never said "OK, let me give this a try, as it's really important, but I know the limitations of DNA recovery."

  2. I agree that no researcher would ever claim to be able to 100% guarantee any method will work 100% of the time. Perhaps Dr. Pat has been fortunate enough to have encountered only 100% viable samples, so has thus far achieved that claim, or more likely utilizes a pre-testing method to determine if there is DNA still present in any sample that is then cleared for eligibility for this method. For anyone to claim that they will have a 100% certain success rate would be to open oneself up to the speculation that skulduggery is somehow involved, as a sample that no longer contains viable DNA can not yield viable DNA by any extraction method.

  3. I'm sorry, but this over-the-top post from Dr. Ketchum sounds like she is trying to stroke someone's ego as well as inflate her own. "Dr. Pat" is clearly the Pat who is one of her coauthors, and who reported to a JREF poster that he never even saw a copy of her DNA paper.

    Forgive me for being highly suspicious of anything she says at this point.

  4. Also sounds like she is begging for funding. Did Wally wise up?

  5. We complain when she does not provide enough info/details/updates or status. Then when some details are provided we complain and ridicule her and yet we really as laymen we do not have an understanding of what her work entails, except of course, the brilliant wisdom learned from the forums.

    She said "He has never failed to get DNA from bone". Does that statement indicate that he guarantees 100% success?

    She said" We have one sample that is highly degraded bone and it will be interesting if this will be the first time this extraction technique fails" Does this sound like she is guaranteeing the method will work?

    She seems hopeful that a DNA technique learned will work to provide new DNA evidence to use from marginal samples. Do we have a problem with this?

    She published her data and techniques in a paper for everyone to see and critique. And yet we criticize and ridicule without really understanding the details provided in the paper.

    We posters are a sorry miserable lot.

    I wish Ketchum all the success in helping provide evidence to hopefully prove or disprove the existence of an unknown hominid.

    You posters are a sorry/miserable lot.

    1. Anon 2:51, you posted as well so I guess you are sorry and miserable. What and idiot!

    2. Anon 2:51, you are correct. Thank you. Most posters are not DNA experts but just hide behind their keyboards insulting everyone and complaining.

  6. I think the problem is that she will not "prove of disprove". For Ketchum "disprove" is not an option.

  7. Hopefully - that is not the case. Can the sequencing generated from the different labs be manipulated? The paper gives the appearance of being legit.

  8. Has no one watched the Music Man? These are the claims of a person seeking funding from fools.

  9. Melba Ketchum's motives, knowledge and professionalism are suspect and there's no one else to blame. She has arrived at conclusions well before producing the evidence to support them. When questioned, her understandable insecurities cause her to go into a hyper-spin mode, employing less-than-knowledgeable supporters to valiantly rush to her defence (see poster at 2:51) and, her most revealing reflex; blame others. The latter is a huge red flag in regards to charlatans. If only she had expended the same level of energy in actual objective research. After a while, a profile emerges.

    It seems likely that, at some point she came face to face with the fact that she cannot provide evidence of her foregone conclusions. As a result, the last couple of years have revealed low professional standards and a tendency to leave a thumb on the scales, so to speak. Furthermore, Ketchum is also a firm believer in the supernatural aspects of Bigfootery, though she has wisely gone to great lengths to avoid publicly discussing it. After all, she may be dishonest and/or deluded but she's not stupid.

    At the end of the day, the social, phsycological and pseudo-scientific aspects of the case are almost as fascinating as the discovery of a true hidden hominid might have been.

    1. Stupid maybe, sloppy certainly, gullible as well.
      She thought an April Fool's post by the Animal Defense League was legit and wondered on her FB page if she might be subpoena to testify.
      It would be nice Guy, to only discuss her science, but it is so lacking, full of artifacts and errors - interpreted and presented so poorly, that little can be said about her claims, as no objective scientist can make reasonable sense of it abased on her presentation, period.
      Many have offered to review any fuller data set if she would only provide it. Fundamental issues like failing peer review can't be over looked, it's not bashing to say it either, simply a sad fact.
      Pointing out again she has willingly made up a big whopper about the paper passing peer review with another new scientific journal, that still would not print it, goes directly to her science and integrity.
      Who is Casey Mullins, the claimed editor of that first Journal?
      I bet this anon post that's "he's" cyber fake.
      Did you ever call Scholastica and ask them about FAZE, the Frontiers of Zoological Exploration that created JAMEZ, the embryonic and unpublished online Journal Of Multidisciplinary Evolutionary Zoology, both of which spring to life and expire in a matter of days? Only to resurface as the claimed purchased and renamed DeNovo Scientific Journal?
      Is this a real, arm's length, Journal review or even transaction, or even real at all?
      Cyber funkiness again.
      It looks made up.
      Don't you question her basic integrity? I do. It goes to the heart of her scientific claims.
      I am calling fraudulent on several levels. Too bad. What a terrible waste of time and money and credibility.

  10. Why are Melba Ketchum's motives, knowledge and professionalism suspect? Because a bunch of anonymouses say so? Because she charges $30 for a paper, and a bunch of anonymouses informed us she's the only one to do so? Or because she said she saw Bigfoot, which is the same as "believes her results"? Or because a bunch of anonymouses say she said (she never did, actually) BF is half man, half giant lemur? Or... Why exactly?

    What makes you think she has arrived at conclusions well before producing the evidence to support them? What makesd you say that? A press release published before a paper? First, that had a perfectly reasonable explanation and others "to blame", and second, she had her evidence way before that, it's just that she didn't provide it for you.

    I have yet to see her "insecurities when questioned", while in this whole affair, "hyper-spin mode" has almost exclusively been reserved for the critics who actively and persistently ignore her answers. It's such a blatant spin to claim otherwise. I never heard her blame others, except when she talks about magazines and reviewers - which she of course will not substantiate by disclosing names and e-mails. So you can believe it or not, which is irelevant.

    "If only she had expended the same level of energy in actual objective research"? Have you seen the paper at all? Have you ever read anything ABOUT the paper? Are you sure you are replying to the right article?

    It seems likely that you have not been informed that she provided evidence of her "foregone conclusions", and at some point you will came face to face with the fact that no one as of yet has found a flaw in her results. Screaming "contamination", "messed up" and even "match nothing on this Earth" (well, duh!) by individuals who admittedly gave it 5 minutes, is not really a scientific rebuttal.

    To say she is a "a firm believer in the supernatural aspects of Bigfootery" is actually revealing you to be just a troll, making me a fool to type so much in response. Therefore: sorry, I thought I was debating...

    At the end of the day, the social, psychological and pseudo-scientific aspects of the reaction of part of the public are almost as fascinating as the discovery of a true hidden hominid might have been.

  11. While I appreciate the passions for and against Melba Ketchum, I really do, I'm looking forward to more conversations about her data as opposed to her personality.

    I'm all for civil debate and ideas being challenged, my preference is that these arguments lead to contemplating Bigfoot.

  12. Got carried away. Sorry.

    It's hard to discuss her data for us non-geneticists. Basically you can choose to believe David H. Swenson and just a couple of other true scientists who publicly endorsed the idea she's not simply a loon, or fall for the smear campaign and comments from skeptics who only managed to get a "sciency" evaluation from a group of youngsters, whose ("so funny!") "panda" results were easily rebutted by Dr. Ketchum in a single FB comment.

    But as a psychologist and an adult person not living under a rock, I can tell a thing or two about the kind of smoke the opponents raise. It speaks volumes.

    Sorry again,
    Anonymous 10:32:00 AM

  13. It is hard not to respond firmly to the anti Ketchum rhetoric - it is very tiresome to constantly see their baseless insinuations presented as fact, to purposefully diminish her work. For what reason, I do not know.

    On the other hand, it is exciting to consider the DNA sequencing results from multiple locations and labs being the same and unknown. This brings me back day after day to learn more.

  14. Honestly, and this is the goal of our group, we REFUSE to jump the gun on our Bigfoot claims. Many of our group have seen Bigfoot. However, we are all understanding that science, and the world, will only believe good scientific proof. Want to know why the Platypus is recognized as a true animal? Because one was shot and sent back to England. Before then, scientists could not believe one existed. Does this mean the scientists were stupid? Were they wrong to not agree the platypus was a new type of animal that broke all the molds? No, because science waits for definitive proof. The scientists did not hold onto their skepticism when a dead platypus was delivered to them. Same here, scienctists (most of whom don't have a side in this) will jump up and down with glee and rush to study Bigfoot once the DNA is proven correct... in the correct manner. CNN will be there cameras rolling once their science editor says "This is REAL!" Their science editor wants this to be true! (Remember, they ran photographs of the Bigfoot suit in the freezer!). So this thought that "why are people being mean to Melba?" is all for naught if her science proves right. Until then, she needs to do one thing, produce results. Good results. Not to jump the gun, not to say "oh this is great we're going to get wonderful results!". It's wonderful she's anticipating great results. It's great that she thinks so far her results are wonderful (but far from definitive, trust me science wants a real Bigfoot, especially science editors for magazines and television. Bigfoot brings big ratings.) The proof is in the pudding, let's see it. So far, not even the media that is desperate for Bigfoot to be true is in agreement with Ketchum. Next round, let's hope. If not, people will get very tired of her "Just wait!"

  15. Just a wiggly fact check from your friendly library staffer. The first scientists to examine a platypus thought it was a hoax, quite understandably.

  16. I agree with Kitty that the presumption of everyone being against Melba Ketchum is false. A world in which such a person/animal existed would be wonderful. A new cousin species to examine, learn from and possibly tell us more about ourselves in indirect ways would be a discovery of immense consequence.
    For a while I, too felt that a media and academic bias might actually hinder the process. But taking into account the definitive HD evidence Ketchum spoke of when CNN carried an interview back in the fall of 2012, I felt all that was needed was patience. The discovery was inevitable. "Amazing", was the word Ketchum used to describe the videos.
    In another interview earlier this year, however, Ketchum said that the HD footage would not be convincing to those who refuse to believe. She cited the Patterson film example as proof that revealing the "amazing" new footage would be pointless. That atatement startled me, shaking me awake from my suspension of disbelief and causing me to lose faith in Ketchum. I'll admit, there were other declarations that should have caused me to doubt sooner but enthusiasm trumped rational thinking.
    Perhaps I've become too cynical now. Still, I hold out hope that someone, somehow will make a first person dicovery and, without expecations of renumeration, share it with the world. I honestly don't believe that Ketchum has both the evidence or the willingness to share it.

  17. I find the DNA findings presented in her paper to be the amazing discovery and thus evidence. I am waiting to see responses to this info from other science orgs.

    The video evidence was not hers to share.

  18. I'm just waiting for her to upload the raw data from her last study before I give her MY bone!

  19. The review paper was rejected, the journal she published it in was one she bought for this very purpose ? Anybody see the conflict of interests here ?

  20. Replies
    1. While you, of course, are not . . . Cheers!

    2. Funny you look like twins to me

  21. ^^^^Anonymous Apr 2, 2013, 9:53:00 A troll for stating the facts you mean ? An interesting perspective you have on life then.

  22. I can respect the anonymous thing, but when you fight I don't know whose side to take :P

  23. Rinny Lakin, haven`t had time to set up a profile yet but will soon, don`t take sides there is no need, trolls such as the one that called me troll always show themselves to be exactly what they are ie Trolls but their derrogotary terms and attitude, stating the facts as i did always seem to upset these people, i wonder about their mental health i really do.


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