The Pangboche Hand is an artifact from a Buddhist monastery in Pangboche, Nepal. Supporters contend that the hand is from a Yeti, a scientifically unrecognized animal purported to live in the Himalayan mountains. A finger bone from the hand was tested and the DNA shown to be human.
Oil businessman and adventurer Tom Slick first heard accounts of the possible existence of a "Yeti hand" held as a ritual artifact in the monastery at Pangboche during one of his first "Abominable Snowman" treks in 1957. The Slick expeditions were the first to bring photographs of the hand back to the West.
During later Tom Slick-sponsored expeditions in and around the Himalayas, his associates gathered more information on the "Pangboche hand," and an effort to further examine it was planned. In 1959 Peter Byrne, a member of Slick's expedition that year, reportedly stole pieces of the artifact after the monks who owned it refused to allow its removal for study. Byrne claimed to have replaced the stolen bone fragments with human bones, rewrapping the hand to disguise his theft.
Byrne smuggled the bones from Nepal into India, after which actor James Stewart allegedly smuggled the hand out of the country in his luggage. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman rediscovered this story while writing Tom Slick's biography in the 1980s. Coleman confirmed details of the incidents with written materials in the Slick archives, interviews with Byrne, and correspondence with Stewart. Byrne later confirmed the Pangboche hand story via a letter from Stewart that Byrne published in a general book on Nepalese wildlife.
During the highly publicized 1960 World Book expedition, which had many goals including gathering intelligence on Chinese rocket launchings, Sir Edmund Hillary and Marlin Perkins took a sidetrip in Nepal to investigate the hand. Hillary was unaware of the possibility that he was looking at a combination of the original material and the human bones placed there by Byrne. Hillary determined the artifact was a hoax.
According to monks at Pangboche monastery, many years ago, a monk walked into a cave to meditate. There, he saw a Yeti. Many years later, he came back, and the yeti was dead. He collected the hand and scalp and took it back to the monastery where it remained until it was discovered in the modern age.
London University primatologist William Charles Osman Hill conducted a physical examination of the pieces that Byrne supplied. His first findings were that it was hominid, and later in 1960 he decided that the Pangboche fragments were a closer match with a Neanderthal.
In 1991, in conjunction with Coleman's research, it was discovered that the Slick expedition consultant, an American anthropologist by the name of George Agogino, had retained samples of the alleged Yeti hand. The NBC program Unsolved Mysteries obtained samples and determined they were similar to human tissue, but were not human, and could only verify they were "near human." After the broadcast of the program, the entire hand was stolen from the Pangboche monastery, and reportedly disappeared into a private collection via the illegal underground in the sale of antiquities. George Agogino, before his death on September 11, 2000, transferred his important files on the Pangboche Yeti hand to Loren Coleman.
In 2010 Weta Workshops produced a replica skull and hand based on photos of the missing hand and skull. Mike Allsop handed over the replica skull and hand to monks at Pangboche in May 2011.
On 27 December 2011 it was announced that a finger belonging to the hand contained human DNA, following tests carried out in Edinburgh. Dr. Rob Ogden commented that "We have got a very, very strong match to a number of existing reference sequences on human DNA databases... Human was what we were expecting and human is what we got."