Bigfoot's Genome is Published

Last year, a group of Sasquatch investigators in Texas announced that they had sequenced Bigfoot's DNA, but they had trouble getting the results published in a scientific journal. Now that data has been published in a brand-new journal called DeNovo, which was recently purchased by the Texas researchers and contains only one paper: the Bigfoot DNA report. The thing is, you have to pay $30 to read it. However, Ars Technica got a copy and lets us in on some details. The researchers pose the hypothesis that Bigfoot is a hybrid of human and some unidentified primate.

To begin with, the mitochondrial DNA of the samples (when it can be isolated) clusters with that of modern humans. That isn't itself a problem if we assume that those doing the interbreeding were human females, but the DNA sequences come from a variety of different humans—16 in total. And most of these were "European or Middle Eastern in origin" with a few "African and American Indian haplotypes." Given the timing of the interbreeding, we should only be seeing Native American sequences here. The authors speculate that some humans may have walked across the ice through Greenland during the last glaciation, but there's absolutely no evidence for that. The best explanation here is contamination.

As far as the nuclear genome is concerned, the results are a mess. Sometimes the tests picked up human DNA. Other times, they didn't. Sometimes the tests failed entirely. The products of the DNA amplifications performed on the samples look about like what you'd expect when the reaction didn't amplify the intended sequence. And electron micrographs of the DNA isolated from these samples show patches of double- and single-stranded DNA intermixed. This is what you might expect if two distantly related species had their DNA mixed—the protein-coding sequences would hybridize, and the intervening sections wouldn't. All of this suggests modern human DNA intermingled with some other contaminant.

There will be more analysis coming from various science writers about this paper, but you can get a good overview from Ars Technica. Link -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Flickr user Katy Kristin)

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