It’s the stuff of post-war comic books: a remote Himalayan monastery supposedly containing the hand of a yeti was discovered by explorer Peter Byrne in 1957. Byrne sent a runner over the border to India with a message for Tom Slick, the wealthy American Oilman with an interest in Cryptozoology, who returned instructions to retrieve said hand. However, the superstitious monks refused to part with their boney relic, insisting it would bring down a curse on their Pangboche Monastery.
Determined, Slick met Byrne in London with primatologist Professor William Osman Hill, befittingly at a restaurant in Regent’s Park Zoo. The professor, explaining they needed a finger for scientific analysis, suggested they swap a human one for the Yeti’s. With that, he produced a brown paper bag and tipped a shrivelled human hand on the table, to which Slick exclaimed “I take it that’s not dessert!”
For £100, the monks begrudgingly parted with a finger. After niftily swapping homo digits, Byrne trekked à pied into India with the challenge of smuggling the Yeti’s pointer through customs. Luckily, Slick’s old hunting pal, movie legend James Stewart, was holidaying with his wife Gloria at The Grand Hotel in Calcutta. Gloria, a sporting chapette, agreed to smuggle it through customs in her lingerie box. Lucky Yeti.
Back in London, Prof. Hill compared the digit with human variants and concluded that it was indeed ‘not human.’ Curiously, the case went stone cold. Until today, that is. Nearly 60 years on, a chance discovery of the hideous pinkie in the Royal College of Surgeons has prompted a sliver of it to be DNA tested. As we suspected, it’s a human finger, probably belonging to some poor chap who lost it when hunting a sabre-toothed mongoose.