Science Answers: Is Bigfoot real?

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Nearly one third of Americans believe Bigfoot is real.

Why they believe this, I don’t know. Because there’s not a shred of credible evidence in favor of the existence of an 8-foot tall hairy ape who, in an age when everyone has a camera in his or her pocket, no one can seem to take a clear photograph of.

Wait SciGuy, what about the DNA evidence?

Oh yes, the DNA evidence. Earlier this year a geneticist from Nacogdoches, Texas, claimed she had sequenced DNA from several Sasquatches and confirmed the existence of a novel, large-ape like species. In other words, Melba Ketchum said she had found Bigfoot.

Being of a rational bent I was deeply skeptical, and in a blog entry I was pretty harsh about her work. After all, the paper had been published in a scientific journal that had only been created a week before. And frankly, if you had DNA evidence, wouldn’t you need to have gotten than from an actual Bigfoot. Of which there might just be a photo?

Anyway, to her credit, Ketchum called me and we had a good talk. So I decided to check out her story.

We made a deal in which I had a highly experienced and reputable geneticist test Ketchum’s DNA samples in his lab. If the evidence backed up Ketchum’s claims, I had a blockbuster story. My geneticist friend would have a hand in making the scientific discovery of the decade, or perhaps the century. And Ketchum would be vindicated. It was in all of our interest for the DNA to come back as Sasquatch.

Alas, the DNA samples proved to come from a bunch of different species, such as opossums.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll be giving opossums a bit more respect when I run across them in the future.

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