The Pangboche Hand
The Pangboche Hand is an artifact stolen from a Buddhist monastery in Pangboche, Nepal by big game hunter-author Peter Byrne. Supporters contend that the hand belong to the Himalayan yeti. Critics argue it is a fraud more than likely, based upon minimal understanding of the sacred relic’s history.
In 1957, Texas oil millionaire Tom Slick launched a series of expeditions in search of the Yeti. Slick had an unwavering love for cryptozoology; his money bought him the hope filled promise of bringing the abominable snowman into captivity. Slick's efforts were largely fruitless, except for a 1958 expedition that revealed the alleged bones of a yeti's hand, an artifact enshrined at a monastery in Pangboche, Nepal later known as the Pangboche Hand....
The monks refused to let expedition member Peter Byrne remove the hand
Scientific analysis of the Pangboche bones was mixed. British Primatologist William Osman-Hill initially announced that the bones were of human origin, but then changed his mind and declared them unidentifiable as any known primate. Later he revised his opinion yet again, saying that the Pangboche hand must have belonged to a Neanderthal. Unfortunately, the smuggled bones were lost and cannot be re-examined today.
Sir Edmund Hillary, the explorer who climbed Mt. Everest in 1953, decided to get to the bottom of this "abominable snowman" business and embarked on a highly publicized debunking expedition in 1960-61. Hillary's intentions were noble, but he committed some of the closed-minded crimes that give good skepticism a bad name. Sir Edmund accused the Sherpas of being a superstitious people who did not distinguish between the mythical and reality. He further insinuated that their yeti sightings went hand in hand with heavy drinking. He obtained a "yeti scalp" which he decried as being a fake made out of the skin of a goat like animal, the serow, without understanding that the artifact was a common skullcap fashioned in imitation of the yeti -- these yeti scalps were no more deceptive than the sugary pastry we figuratively call a bear claw.
In an irony of hilarious proportions, Sir Edmund Hillary also ridiculed the Pangboche hand, which he characterized as "essentially a human hand, strung together with wire, with the possible inclusion of several animal bones" -- and little did he know how perfectly accurate that description was, considering the secret surgery Peter Byrne had performed on the bones just a year earlier!
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