Thursday, 29 March 2012

What is more interesting the mystery or the hairy biped?

I recently listened to Joe Rogan talk about the fascination with the unknown and the popularity of the unknown. Listen to the first half of the video.

I respect Joe Rogan as a thinker, and he raises a great point:

It is possible that this cultural fascination with mystery has propagated the Sasquatch myth. If Sasquatch is not real or extinct then the mystery will continue indefinitely since proving absolutely that Sasquatch does not exist is essentially impossible. This idea is probably responsible for the popularity of ghosts, aliens, and other cryptids. Although it should be acknowledged that the physical evidence for Sasquatch is relatively greater.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Ketchum DNA study: Reading between the lines

If successful the Ketchum study will not only reveal sasquatch as a flesh and blood creature but will also tell us very specifically who/what sasquatch are and where they came from. There are several possibilities:

*I realize there are very specific grammar guideling when discussing taxa (genus species), I'm sure I have made errors. I hope my ideas are still communicated.

Hypothesis #1: Homo Sapiens [Sapiens] (Human/people)
The genotype of sasquatch falls within the normal limits for Homo Sapiens. However, the phenotype is very different from "modern" humans. The genetic difference between Chimpanzee and human is extremely small (genotype) yet the physical appearance (phenotype) is dramatically different. It is possible, yet unlikely, that sasquatch are a tribe of humans. There are rumours of this because of a web domain owned by Dr. Ketchum titled "Feral Human Project."  This hypothesis would be incredibly diffficult to prove without bones or a body because of the possibility of sample contamination. Hopefully, the sasquatch DNA would still have several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) not found in know human DNA, but evident in multiple sasquatch samples/individuals. This would go a long way to validate the findings. 
Hypothesis #2: Homo Sapiens* (Human with an asterisk)
Sasquatch are Homo Sapiens with a larger proportion of genetic material that came from neanderthal, more specifically sasquatch are Homo Sapiens with 5-50% of their DNA originating from Neanderthal . Of non-African Homo Sapiens up to 4% of the DNA came from Neanderthal. Dr. Ketchum has hinted at this through her facebook page by answering questions related to Neanderthal. Since non-Africans don't consider themselves 96-99% human, sasquatch would still be considered Homo Sapiens and therefore could be accurately described as "feral humans." This hypothesis would be easy to prove, using the technique described by Eric Durand one could easily and cheaply find out where the sasquatch DNA fits relative to human and Neanderthal examples. This is hypothesis is the best case scenario, easy to prove, mind blowing, difficult/impossible to fake, difficult to refute.... If this is the case scientific journals would be eager to publish.
Hypothesis #3: Genus Homo
Sasquatch is Neanderthal, Homo erectus, or some other surviving Homo genus. DNA matches that of Neanderthal or other that has its genome sequenced. This would be controversial because scientists would demand to know where the DNA came from, and most of the samples were not collected in a manner that would not satisfy skeptical scientists. It is possible to hoax if Dr. Ketchum had access to Neanderthal DNA (for example), replicated it and contaminated samples with it. However, if samples show a Homo DNA not known to science the paper could be very successful.
Hypothesis #4: Gigantopithecus, or other ape.
To my knowledge the genome of Gigantopithecus has never been sequenced. The Ketchum DNA study could conceivably show DNA which does not match any known species living or extinct and shows characteristics of ape.
Hypothesis #5: Insufficient data
The quality of the DNA data is not enough to change any minds and will remain highly controversial. The DNA equivalent of a blobsquatch.

I'm hoping for #2 or #4.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Ketchum DNA Study: Requirements for a tipping point

In order for the Ketchum Study to open the eyes to the scientific community (and the world) that sasquatch is a living species the following conditions must be met:
  • Reproducibility - the extracted DNA must be copied and sequenced or genotyped by a lab other than the one Dr. Ketchum owns. Copying DNA is not particularly difficult and is usually standard practice once the DNA is extracted from blood, saliva, hair, ... Also, standard DNA copying protocols must be strictly met and documented, otherwise the DNA sample might be considered inadmissible.
  • Significantly different from known species - The DNA must show variations (SNPs) that are not present in Homo sapiens. The scientific community will not accept human DNA which allegedly was collected from the "sierra kills" or any other blood or hair sample. The DNA evidence itself must be compelling enough to answer the question: How could DNA be collected without any bones or body?
  • Different samples give the same/similar result - For example, DNA collected in British Columbia is remarkably similar to DNA collected in Oklahoma, but with enough variation (SNP differences) that suggest the sample did not come from the same individual. This condition in itself is very poor scientific evidence given the circumstances of the sample collection. However, this condition in addition to the others discussed above would make the study very compelling.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Surface anatomy of the Hovey photo

The details surrounding this photo are controversial, let's ignore that for a second and look only at the photo itself, more specifically examine the anatomical features of the photo.

Compare the photo to a gorilla, a muscular human, and Patty.

In the Hovey photo the shoulders have a very dramatic slope. The human, gorilla, and Patty have a slope to the shoulder that is less steep. Also between the Trapezius and the Deltoid there is no notch or angle between these two muscles. This notch is created by the separation of the two muscles and the bony landmark at the AC joint where the clavicle (collar bone) meets the Acromion process of the Scapula (shoulder blade).
Another difference is that the Hovey photo shows a 'hump' or ridge on the surface of the body between the back and head. The gorilla and Patty have no ridge at all, their back flows seamlessly into the back of the head. Humans have a smaller ridge but it is usually less pronounced than what we see in the Hovey photo.
The position of the head in the Hovey photo is quite different from the gorilla and Patty. The gorilla and Patty the head sits low relative to the proximal end of the Humerous (top of the upper arm bone). The position of the head relative to the Humerous in the Hovey photo appears to be similar to humans. Bill Munns argues successfully that the Patterson Gimlin Film is authentic because a human head would not be able to "get inside the costume." It is easily conceivable that a human form could "fit into the costume" of the Hovey photo.
The last thing I will cover is that the lack of visible Scapula in the Hovey photo. Given how clear and deep the depression running along the spine is it surprising that the area between the spine and the arm is flat and featureless. Scapula are visible on most humans, they can also be seen in the gorilla photo.

The musculoskeletal anatomy in the Hovey photo lacks features that suggest it is a living relict hominoid.

additional gorilla examples

chimp examples

human examples