Jimmy Stewart And The Yeti Hand Of Pangboche

“The story of how this artifact came to find itself in our museum store reveals the extraordinary lengths people have gone to in order to prove the existence of mythical animals.” —Sam Alberti

In A Nutshell

The Pangboche Hand was a supposed artifact which was found in Nepal and purported to be from the yeti, or Abominable Snowman. Mountain climber Peter Byrne smuggled it out of the country with some help from his friend, famed actor Jimmy Stewart. DNA testing later revealed it to be a human hand, discrediting yet another claim of evidence for the yeti.

The Whole Bushel

Mountain climber Peter Byrne was sent to the Himalayas in search of evidence of the yeti and came across a particular artifact known as the Pangboche Hand. Located in a temple in Nepal, it was said to come from the legendary creature and Byrne wished to get it back to London for testing. (He later described it to Matthew Hill, a BBC reporter: “It looked like a large human hand. It was covered with crusted black, broken skin.”) Byrne left without the hand, but returned a year later and managed to negotiate with the monks, who let him remove one of the fingers, which was 8.9 centimeters (3.5 in) long and 2.5 centimeters (1 in) across at the widest part.

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However, smuggling it back to London would prove to be much more difficult, so Byrne turned to his friend, famed American actor Jimmy Stewart. He was vacationing with his wife Gloria in Calcutta at the time, and Byrne traveled to the pair’s hotel. In order to hide the finger, they put the finger inside Gloria’s lingerie case and got out of India without incident. When they got to London’s Heathrow Airport, they discovered a British customs officer had taken their luggage.

Luckily, they were reassured that the British would “never open a lady’s lingerie case,” and it was successfully brought to Professor William Osman Hill, who erroneously claimed it belonged to an ancient hominid. The matter wasn’t settled until 2008, when the Zoological Society of Scotland in Edinburgh ran DNA tests on a sliver of flesh from the finger and confirmed that it was of human origin.

Show Me The Proof

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