A team of researchers led by Melba Ketchum, a Texas veterinarian, claims to have not only conclusively proven the existence of Bigfoot through genetic testing, but also that the mysterious monster is a half-human hybrid, the result of mating with modern human females about 15,000 years ago.
Ketchum's work - which had been delayed for years because no peer-reviewed scientific journal would accept her study - was finally published yesterday in something called the "DeNovo Scientific Journal."
There's been much discussion about the dubious validity of the study; the fact that it was rejected by mainstream science journals and instead self-published in a "science journal" and web site created specifically for that purpose raised many eyebrows.
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As i09 writer Robert T. Gonzales drily noted, "The site claims to be ‘open access,' but charges 30 bucks to access the Bigfoot genome paper. It bears mentioning that the Bigfoot genome paper, at the time of this posting, is also the only paper in Vol. 1, Issue 1 of the new journal. Seeing as ‘open access' clearly does not mean what these researchers think it means, you'll forgive us if we remain skeptical when they say their data ‘conclusively proves that the Sasquatch exist as an extant hominin.'"
So what's this all about? Why, exactly, is Ketchum struggling so mightily to prove that Bigfoot exist? Though Ketchum is charging for copies of her article, her motivation is likely not profit, since she's not going to get rich from her research. Nor is it fame, since the paper is garnering universally scathing reviews from scientists, which can only further tarnish her reputation.
Instead, the answer may surprise you: Ketchum sees her research as an important first step in obtaining legal status for Bigfoot, which she believes are an undiscovered Native American population. Ketchum issued a statement demanding that the U.S. "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."
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This is not the first time that believers in unknown animals have petitioned the government for their protection. Similar quasi-legal measures have been proposed or passed; for example in 2007 a Canadian Bigfoot enthusiast named Todd Standing (who, like Ketchum, claims to have definitive proof of Bigfoot) petitioned the government to make harming the creatures a crime. "Champ," the lake monster reputed to dwell in Lake Champlain is "officially" protected by both the New York State Assembly and the Vermont Legislature.
Ketchum apparently views herself as less of a Bigfoot researcher than a valiant protector of a peaceful, vulnerable, and undiscovered native people.
Ketchum believes that "The Sasquatch people are more like us than they are different. The Sasquatch people have their own language, traditions, and rituals. They live in family units, they order their lives according to the laws of their people, and they bury their dead. Yet the Sasquatch people are captivating because of their physical, genetic, and cultural differences. Sadly, these special traits also make them uniquely vulnerable to those who would see in their unusual lifestyle or appearance a justification to harass, trap, or even kill them. Your compassion and understanding will be vital to protect the Sasquatch people."
Given that-as far as we know - no Bigfoot have ever been harassed, trapped or killed, the idea that federal laws are required to prevent such actions seems rather like putting the cart before the unicorn.
Ketchum's complaint - echoed by many on the Bigfoot and paranormal fields - that closed-minded scientists refuse to look at her evidence because they are afraid of its implications is absurd. If and when hard evidence is offered for Bigfoot, scientists will be scrambling to investigate and research this amazing scientific breakthrough.
The irony is that all the blurry photos, eyewitness reports, ambiguous footprints, and pseudoscientific DNA testing in the world have failed, whereas it would only take one Bigfoot, trapped live or found dead, to conclusively prove that the creatures exist.