I recently conducted an interview with Richard Stubstad on the subject of Bigfoot. Stubstad was an early player in Melba Ketchum’s genetic studies of Bigfoot which later branched into the Erickson Project, among others. Stubstad himself has no relationship with the Erickson Project at all.
Lately, he has been publishing his own analysis of the samples that he worked with. His job was to analyze the initial samples as a statistician to determine their MtDNA and the probability that they were finding something real and not a hoax or misidentification. Stubstad’s website is here. You need to hit the click here button to read the pdf on his analysis.
Stubstad’s paper deals with two samples. Sample 1 is apparently a bone from the southwestern US. The location is not known. Sample 2 is blood and tissue gathered from the northeastern US, possibly Vermont, but I am not sure.
The two samples lined up almost totally, a very surprising result. A hoax was ruled out because the two locations were very distant from each other, and the two groups did not cooperate with each other. Thus these two samples have a 97% chance of being genuine and not random samples or hoaxes.
The kicker is that both samples came back 100% Homo sapiens sapiens on MtDNA, which honestly doesn’t make sense. In particular, both samples matched those from ancient Europeans of the Franco-Cantabrian glacial refuge in Europe. This was an area encompassing southern France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, etc. Humans were holed up here as glaciers covered almost all of Europe. This was one of the only parts of Europe that was not covered in ice, so the remaining Europeans sought shelter here from the cold.
Robert Lindsay (RL): You say that these samples come from the Franco-Cantabrian glacial refuge in Europe 10-20,000 YBP. Does that mean that no modern humans have MtDNA like this? Were there any samples in GenBank of modern Europeans showing similar MtDNA to these ancient Europeans? What I am asking is if it is possible for the samples to be from modern humans existing today, or is that impossible?
Richard Stubstad (RS): Well, this is one of the caveats. There are some modern populations who have MtDNA which resembles the ancient European samples. They tend to be Spaniards, Portuguese, Catalans, Basques, southern French, etc. So a human today with predominant ancestry from these regions could have DNA that looked like that from the Franco-Cantabrian glacial refuge. However, there is a 97% chance that this is not true, as we are talking about two experimentally unrelated samples.
RL: Do you think that the samples were of Bigfoots?
RS: I really do. I don’t think it was a hoax because the two groups who submitted these samples do not work together at all. In fact, they don’t even like each other. I can’t imagine them working together for any reason. Also, I went to the southwestern site, and I believe this fellow really does have some Bigfoot activity at his site. I’m no expert, but that’s my impression. I also felt this guy was simply incapable of such an elaborate hoax. I won’t go into the reasons for that, but let’s just leave it at that.
RL: So Bigfoot is human then? What kind of sense does that make? It makes no sense at all.
RS: Well, in my opinion, Bigfoot is probably a hybrid species, part human, part something else (a related hominid of some kind), that has the ability to have viable offspring. The MtDNA only means that there was a human female from the Franco-Cantabrian refuge in the Bigfoot line during that time frame. That’s all it means. It doesn’t speak to the females of the Bigfoot line before that, nor does it speak to the male lineage.
RL: One of the leaks from the Erickson Project said that Bigfoot was partway between a Neandertal and a human. Jeff Meldrum was said to be surprised that they were that close to us. He thought they would be more distant. Is there any evidence of Neandertal MtDNA in the sequence?
RS: There is none whatsoever. Neandertal differs by ~200 polymorphisms on the mitochondrial side, and that was not indicated in this finding at all. Even Neandertal MtDNA is quite a bit different, so this should have shown up. Dr. Ketchum is a likely supporter of the hybrid theory. This is something that she knows a lot about due to her work with animals – hybridized species.
One of her theories was that there could have been what she called “seepage” of Neandertal DNA into the Bigfoot mitochondrial genome. However, I don’t really see much evidence of this. Perhaps there is more compelling evidence on the nuclear DNA side; I just don’t know.
RL: Does GenBank even have any Neandertal sequences in it?
RS: As a matter of fact, they do, and I believe they have more than one – there are in fact several in there.
RL: In the paper, you list two dates – 10-20,000 YBP and 20-30,000 YBP, for the samples. Which one is correct?
RS: The samples themselves matched best with nine samples in GenBank. Eight of these were dated to ~15,000 YBP in the Franco-Cantabrian glacial refuge. However, I believe that this sequence can go back all the way to 20-30,000 YBP in that same area. So it could be anywhere from 10-30,000 YBP in that refuge.
RL: I have been trying to put this all together, but I just get more and more confused. This still does not make sense to me. However, a human-Neandertal or human-Erectus hybrid is at least conceivable.
One thing I find interesting is that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge is where the Neandertals made their last stand on Earth before they went extinct. The last Neandertals are known from caves at Gibraltar ~27,000 YBP. So possibly, the last remains of the Neandertals mated with one or more human females in this area, and Bigfoot was born. The Neandertals went extinct, but Bigfoot as we know it today here in North America was conceived.
RS: I don’t have a problem with that. We have a lot of stories of so-called Bigfoot males around the world taking human females to breed with them, especially here in North America.
Possibly what happened is that the remaining archaic hominids bred in with some human females in the same fashion, and the resulting offspring had enough increased fitness (ie, survival of the fittest) to keep the species from going extinct. That is, the archaic hominids may have gone extinct, but the archaic hominid-human crosses had enough increased fitness that they were able to survive.
RL: Can you describe your relationship with the Erickson Project?
RS:: Yes. Initially, I was involved at the very start of the project, not with Adrian Erickson himself, but with Dr. Ketchum along with a few other folks.
RL: Is it possible that you refused to sign an NDA and this was the reason you were not allowed to continue?
RS: No! I signed an NDA way back in January of 2010, but Dr. Ketchum threw us out anyway. We all signed NDA’s, and we all obeyed them. Even before I was thrown out though, my NDA expired, so I am not on the hook for anything. I think she wants to make this a one-woman show.
RL: You said you think she will be the sole author of the piece and that such papers often have more than one author. How do you know this? Is it possible that you and others might still be listed as co-authors?
RS: No! There is no way we are going to be listed as co-authors. You see, there were several of us, and we were all supposed to be co-authors, but Dr. Ketchum threw either most or all of us all off, so I assume Dr. Ketchum will be the sole author.
RL: What do you think Ketchum’s motivation was? Glory? Money?
RS: I think she wants to get all the credit for this discovery, and maybe there is a financial motive as well. Maybe she wants be some kind of TV star. I really don’t know.
RL: We don’t know if your samples were used in her paper or not, correct? Is it possible that your samples were not useful for Ketchum? I mean, maybe they were useful and maybe they were not, right?
RS: Well, we don’t know if she is using the samples I worked with in the project. I think maybe she is not, as we were thrown off. She still has quite a few other samples. She has about 20 good samples in total. Of those, she may have used 10 or more for her paper. Were the first two samples useful? Of course they were! These were the initial samples that yielded what she called “very interesting results;” the ones that got her interested in doing the larger project project that followed.
RL: You are not leaking private information about this project, correct? And you only know about the initial phase of the project and nothing about what came afterwards, right?
RS: This is correct. I’m not leaking anything; that was a mischaracterization. My NDA expired, and I’m not violating anything. And yes, I know nothing at all about what happened with the project after I left.
RL: How do you feel Ketchum’s project will go?
RS: I am uncertain about it. For one thing, it’s apparently a one woman show, and these papers usually have more than one author. How will a woman show go over with peer reviewers? For another, I feel that she may overreach and make too many unwarranted generalizations or speculations in this piece. We may have another Lloyd Pye case on our hands, like with his so-called Starchild Skull.
RL: I have such a hard time thinking that Bigfoot is human. It really stretches the definition of what human means.
They have hair all over their bodies, they have a nuchal or occipital crest on their skull, they have very long arms, a somewhat nonhuman hand, a nonhuman way of walking, they are much taller and weigh more than any human race, they have a midtarsal break that went out with Homo Erectus 300,000 YBP, they have hair on their breasts, they have no tools or fire, they do not seem to have a normal human language – they are language poor and do not seem able to pick up human languages very easily as another human race would – and they sometimes give off a strong odor similar to what an ape does.
On and on. They’re simply not human. That’s all there is to it.
RS: I agree with you, and this is why I think they are a hybrid between humans and some other hominid.
RL: Are you aware of the feral human theory for Bigfoot?
RS: Yes I am, and it must be considered as one of the hypotheses, but there are many problems with this hypothesis, as you note above.
RL: Regarding the other Bigfoot types around the world, do you think we are dealing with something similar? To me, looking at the Almasty, the Yeren, the Mawas, the Yeti, the Nguoi Rung, the Yowie and others, it seems that we are dealing with the same beast, maybe in different forms.
RS: I agree with you. It does seem to be the same animal, with some differences, maybe similar to the differences between a Lowland Gorilla and a Mountain Gorilla.
RL: Although I think the little Orang Pendek of Sumatra may be something different.
RS: Yes, well there, we can can possibly connect this creature to some recent bones of the so-called “Hobbit” or Flores Man in Indonesia.
RL: Is there anything else you would like to add?
RS: Yes, there is one more thing! I looked at another MtDNA sample, and it came out completely different!
RL: How do you mean? How did the DNA come back? Was it Homo sapiens sapiens again?
RS: Yes, it was as a matter of fact, but it was nothing like the two samples that came back as from the ancient Franco-Cantabrian refuge. It was completely different.
RL: Now things are really not making any sense. Can you elaborate?
RS: Well, not really. I am going to write this up in my next addition to the website you mentioned to begin this interview, hopefully within the next month or so. But it goes along with a theory of mine, that maybe Bigfoot males were taking human females into their genetic line at various points in history. Now – this doesn’t mean that I know this to be a fact; I’m merely speculating…
That’s it for the interview. We may be interviewing some other biggies in the Bigfoot World as things come to a head with the Erickson Project in the near future.
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