TIMPSON, Texas, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A Texas veterinarian says she and fellow genetic researchers have confirmed the existence of "Bigfoot," though their findings have yet to pass peer review.
Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, founder of DNA Diagnostics Inc. in the eastern Texas town of Timpson, said she and her team spent five years on their study of purported Bigfoot hair and concluded they have confirmed the existence of a hominin hybrid species, the legendary creature commonly called "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch," living in North America.
There have been frequent-but-unsubstantiated claims of Bigfoot sightings over the years, including some grainy film clips.
In a release posted on the company's website Saturday, the researchers say their DNA sequencing suggests the animal is a human relative that developed about 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.
Ketchum said her team has sequenced three complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and concluded the species is a human hybrid.
"Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain three whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples," she said in the release. "The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species.
"Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens."
Genetic testing has already ruled out Homo neanderthalis and the Denisova hominin as contributors to Sasquatch mtDNA or nuDNA, she said.
"The male progenitor that contributed the unknown sequence to this hybrid is unique as its DNA is more distantly removed from humans than other recently discovered hominins like the Denisovan individual," Ketchum said.
"Sasquatch nuclear DNA is incredibly novel and not at all what we had expected. While it has human nuclear DNA within its genome, there are also distinctly non-human, non-archaic hominin, and non-ape sequences. We describe it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence."
She said further study is needed to "better characterize and understand Sasquatch nuclear DNA."
Ketchum, who describes herself as a veterinarian with 27 years experience in genetics research, including forensics, wants public officials and law enforcement to recognize the Sasquatch as an indigenous people.
"Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry," she said. "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."