Tracing The Origins Of A Yeti Finger
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December 27, 2011

A story broadcast on the BBC tells of a relic said to be the finger of a Yeti. The finger was part of a large hand which had been kept in the Pangboche Temple in Nepal. An explorer named Peter Byrne saw the hand while visiting the temple in 1958 as part of an expedition seeking the Abominable Snowman. He didn't find the snowman, but he did find the hand. Professor William Osman Hill, one of the expediton's backers asked Byrne to return to the temple and persuade the lamas there to give the hand to them. The lamas refused to relinquish the hand — they felt it would be bad luck — but did agree to give Byrne one of the yeti's fingers in return for a human one, which Hill had thoughtfully provided. (Where Hill got the finger, Byrne never knew).

Byrne smuggled the finger through customs with the help of actor James Stewart and his wife Gloria, who were visiting India at that time. They hid the finger in her lingerie case, but when the Stewarts arrived at Heathrow Airport, the case was missing. Customs officials found and returned the case a couple days later assuring the couple that a British customs officier would "never open a lady's lingerie case".

For years the yeti's finger remained in a box with other pieces of the expedition's findings (plaster casts of giant footprints, samples of yeti droppings, etc.) and wound up in the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Museum in London. In 2008, researchers at the Museum, going through Hill's collection, came across the mysterious finger.

The Royal College of Surgeons granted a request to have the finger's DNA tested. Sadly, the DNA test confirmed that the finger did indeed come from a human.

But what of the severed hand in the temple? Sometime in 1990s the hand was stolen from the Pangboche temple. It's present location remains unknown.


Game and Story Use

  • A yeti's hand — even just the finger — would make a splendid MacGuffin
  • In this case the finger was human; what if it was something else?
    • A real yeti?
    • A space alien?
    • The Missing Link?
  • The lamas are willing to hand over a single finger of the Yeti's hand, but only in exchange for another one. So. Whose finger do you sacrifice?
  • Who stole the Yeti's hand?
  • …so the DNA tests as human. That doesn't necessarily mean that it didn't come from a yeti:
    • Yeti may be a hominid similar enough to a human that the test used cannot seperate them.
    • Yeti may be transformed humans - transformed either permanently or temporarily for an number of reasons.
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