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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Otolemur garnettii is No Lemur and We're Not a Fish, a Chicken, or a Mouse

"The phylogeny trees clearly indicate relationships with primate sequences, including lemurs, chimpanzee, macaques, gibbons and marmosets and close relationship with humans."  (Ketchup DNA Study, Link on Right)
You'll recall that Dr. Melba Ketchum talks a lot about a lemur ancestral line leading to sasquatch.  She got this idea from a phylotree that was generated from her sequence data for a sample (she doesn't say which sample), shown as Supplementary Figure 4 in her paper (Link on right).  From Samples 26 and 140 she also generated her own phylotree for the primates as her Figure 16. (Link on right)  The anthropologists (and quite a number of us laymen) were appalled.  Figure 16 is not a tree - it has no trunk.  It's a star.  But forgiving for the moment the graphics, its very far from the established primate phylogeny, but I'll let the experts go to town on that.  My question is: Where's the lemur which Melba still refers to as recently as last Sunday on the "Coast to Coast" radio show with George Knapp? 

Answer: THERE IS NO LEMUR.  The closest animal on her Supplementary Figure  4 and Figure 16 is Otolemur garnettii, but it's not a lemur, rather a galago or bush baby.  See the NCBI taxonomy page on the right,  How could this happen?  I suspect that she didn't check this one.  The other primates were described by their common names in the text of her paper, but this one wasn't - it is simply missing. 

As if this isn't enough of a taxonomic scandal, it gets worse on Supplementary Figures 5 and 6. (Link on right).  Figure 5 shows a phylotree with only a chicken (Gallus gallus), the mouse (Mus musculus), and 29 species of fish.(See my table below).  Are these the closest relatives of sasquatch, a purported human-primate hybrid?  I think not.

Supplementary Figure 6 shows a phylotree with only mouse relatives.  Preposterous!  Again, we don't know which of the samples 26, 31, or 140 this represents, but does it really matter?

I call to account those coauthors or consultants who produced these phylotrees.  Did anybody even look up the common names of these species?
Melba always has a simple, usually totally uninformed, explanation for these things.  She says the anomalous results are because her sasquatch samples are from an unknown species which confuses the NCBI software.  Come on, those folks are way smarter than that.  A primate-human hybrid will not show as closest relatives a chicken, a mouse, or any fish.  It should be something like Supplementary Figure 4, which I guess is probably from the human Sample 31.  Remember, "They're people just like us," says Melba.

These are "rookie mistakes," and should be recognized by all as such.  Melba shouldn't be surprised by my comments; I sent them to her early last year. Oh, but hey, I'm not qualified to review her paper.  She said so on FB.

Meet your new relatives (pictures courtesy of Wikipedia).  Now you'll already know their names at your next family reunion.

Cyprinus carpio
Gallus gallus
Otolemur garnettii

Mus musculus

Fish in Ketchum Supplementary Figure 5 .
Cyprinus carpio – common carp
Fenerbahce devosi – dwarf killifish
Nothobranchius furzeri – turquoise killifish
Aphyosemion pascheni – an African lyretail
Epiplatys sexfasciatus – a killifish
Epiplatys bifasciatus – a killifish
Siniperca chuatsi – Chinese perch
Jordanella floridae – American flag fish
Nimbapanchax viridis – an African rivuline
Nimbapanchax jeanpoli – Jeanpol’s killifish
Nimbapanchax leucopterygius – an African rivuline
Nimbapanchax melanopterygius -  an African rivuline
Misgurnus fossilis – European weather loach
Latimeria chalumnae – West Indian Ocean coelacanth
Anguilla anguilla – European eel
Anguilla rostrata – American eel
Lepidosiren paradoxa – South American lungfish
Dalatias licha – kitefin shark
Squatina californica – Pacific Angelshark
Centroscymnus owstonii – roughskin dogfish
Squalus acanthias – spiny dogfish
Deania sp – deepwater dogfish shark
Alopias pelagicus – pelagic thresher shark
Carcharias taurus – sand tiger shark
Mitsukurina owstoni – goblin shark
Triakis semifasciata – leopard shark
Apristurus profundorum – deepwater catshark
Hydrolagus colliei – spotted ratfish
Rhinobatos productus – shovelnose guitarfish