Tag Archives: Primate

How Bigfoot Fits Into His Genes

Bigfoot still is a mystery, dudes. I know. It’s a bit shocking.

Especially considering all the hoo-ha a couple of months ago when a researcher claimed she had a some viable Bigfoot cells and was on the cusp of being able to sequence the entire Bigfoot genome.

You might recall, reputable scientists did just that a number of years ago, under the aegis of the Human Genome Project. We know where every single AGCT goes in our randy little genes. That knowledge should enable us, in the years to come, to delicately craft designer medications that will work best for you, or for that guy over there. Or maybe that dudette in the front row.

Handy thing, knowing yer entire genome.

Imagine my excitement when I learned that Dr. Melba Ketchum, a Texas-based forensic scientist and the face in front of the genome-sequencing effort, announced to a disbelieving world that she was getting ready to map the elusive possibly-primate’s genetic sequence.

Of course, the disbelieving LAME-stream science community poo-pooed the idea. So Ketchum and the others in her group, took their paper describing the Bigfoot genome and got it published in a scientific journal: the online De Novo . In case you don’t keep up with the scientific literature and find you don’t know the name of this journal, that’s because, prior to this paper being published, it didn’t actually exist. And the only paper that the De Novo ever printed was Ketchum’s paper on Bigfoot.

That’s right. Ketchum and her group purchased an existing journal, renamed it De Novo and then published their paper. A paper which: conclusively proves that the Sasquatch exist as an extant hominin and are a direct maternal descendant of modern humans.”

According to Ketchum and her group, the DNA shows a distinct speciation effect, showing that Bigfoot is not human, but a mix of human and something else.

So, yeah. That’s that. Case closed. Bigfoot exists and is the product of relatively recent intermingling between humans and some other primate. By relatively recently, of course, we’re talking tens of thousands of years. Geologic time, you see. Unfortunately for Ketchum and the rest of her group, there’s a whole bunch of scientists who don’t see it the same way she does, including John Timmer, the science editor for Ars Technica.

Timmer and other biologists looked at the samples and saw contamination of the sample, bad science and decomposition of the supposed DNA sample. In other words, it wouldn’t work. Period.

My initial analysis suggested that the “genome sequence” was an artifact, the product of a combination of contamination, degradation, and poor assembly methods. And every other biologist I showed it to reached the same conclusion. Ketchum couldn’t disagree more. “We’ve done everything in our power to make sure the paper was absolutely above-board and well done,” she told Ars. “I don’t know what else we could have done short of spending another few years working on the genome. But all we wanted to do was prove they existed, and I think we did that.”

Timmer has a fantastic article that goes through Ketchum’s research, talking with the good doctor herself, step by step and points out where things got a little wonky.

This is a great example of public science journalism. He’s not out there to make fun of Ketchum. He’s not some sort of rabid disbeliever out to debunk the “TRUTH” (notice the all-caps. Yeah, it’s that kind of truth.). He’s a scientist, a journalist and a curious man.

Go check it out. It makes for a fascinating read.

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Kollege Korner

by Richard

Sarcasmo, my oldest young dude, is a senior in high school. Which means that, in addition to fighting his senior-itis (normally with whips, chairs and strategically placed land mines), I’m also up to my armpit hairs in helping him apply to the various and sundry colleges of his choice.

And, dude, does he have a lot of choices.

To start with, he decided that he wasn’t going to apply to any college that required him to write an essay. While I admire his dedication to laziness, his mom and I were able to talk (read threaten) him out of that stipulation. Which meant that getting him to write the numerous essays that go along with applying to college was just about as much fun as that time I got my fingers slammed in the car door. Three times in a row. (Long story. Let’s just say it’s a story that points to the unsuitable nature of using lower-order primates as designated drivers and leave it at that.)

I was able to remove a bit of the pain for poor, poor Sarcasmo by offering to be his scribe. That way, all he’d have to do was talk and I would put the words on pixel for him. Which was a bit infuriating and more than a bit frustrating. He’s a high-school student. That I understand, but it’s hard to let slip grammatical errors and poor construction when I’m the one with the fingers on the keyboard. Still, the young dude does have a good mind, a nice turn of phrase (when I can get him to forego monosyllabic grunts) and a better-than-rudimentary organizational style, so that’s good.

Deciding where to apply has been fun. While we did have the joy of College Road Trip ’09 to fall back on, when we sat down to decide on colleges, we found we needed some more options. Specifically, we thought it would be a good idea for him to apply to some smaller schools that we hadn’t visited, which meant more applications. Which meant more forms to fill out.

I will say this, though. The invention of the internetz was a very nice idea. Well done, that man. Being able to fill out an application online makes things so much easier. Mistakes can be corrected without making the application look like it got sneezed on by a snowman. (White Out, don’t you know.)

So we’re headed into the home stretch. I’d ask you dudes to wish me luck, but I think I’d be better off if I just asked you to wish me good beer at the end. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

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Freaky Friday: Glow-In-The-Dark Monkeys

Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way first: Monkeys are inherently funny. We love monkeys. The sillier the better. So. Monkeys good. Genetically enhanced monkeys? Even better. Giant genetically enhanced monkeys? Can’t be topped.

Unfortunately, I know we’re not going to talk about giant genetically enhanced monkeys. Just the plain vanilla genetically enhanced monkeys. That glow green under a special light. How cool is that?

Here’s a quick look at the marmosets.

SCIENCE-US-MONKEYS-GREEN

See? Cool.

Japanese researchers have genetically engineered monkeys whose hair roots, skin and blood glow green under a special light, and who have passed on their traits to their offspring, the first time this has been achieved in a primate.

They spliced a jellyfish gene into common marmosets, and said on Wednesday they hope to use their colony of glowing animals to study human Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.

Erika Sasaki and Hideyuki Okano of the Keio University School of Medicine in Japan used a virus to carry the gene for green fluorescent protein into monkey embryos, which were implanted into a female monkey, and four out of five were born with the gene throughout their bodies.

One fathered a healthy baby that also carried the new genes, they reported in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

The protein glows under blue and ultraviolet light, allowing researchers to illuminate tumor cells, trace toxins and to monitor genes as they turn on and off.

Okay, yeah, we’re talking a medical advancement that could mean a better life for a lot of people. Almost as important, though, would be this: GREEN MONKEYS!

Go, science!

Now if only we could get something like this approved for humans. I mean, imagine kids getting these sorts of genes. You wouldn’t have to turn on the light to find them outside at night, just flash a little ultraviolet at them, no need to disturb the neighbors. Oh, yeah, now we’re talking.

— Richard

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