Yeti Finger: After 50 Years, DNA Says It's Just Human

First Posted: 12/28/11 01:44 PM ET Updated: 01/05/12 08:33 PM ET

An alleged Yeti finger -- after residing in a London museum for decades -- has turned out to be, alas, just a human finger.

The finger in question is among thousands of anatomical human and animal specimens housed at the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Museum since the 1950s, according to the BBC News.

The 3.5-inch-long black, curled appendage was included in a box of specimens with information suggesting the finger came from the hand of a Yeti -- the legendary tall ape-like creature, also referred to as the Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot or Sasquatch -- originating at a monastery in Pangboche Temple in Nepal.

PHOTOS: (Story Continues Below)

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  • This still image taken from a 1977 film purports to show Bigfoot in California.

  • A film still shows what former rodeo rider Roger Patterson said is the American version of the Abominable Snowman of Nepal and Tibet. The film of the tall creature was shot by Patterson and Robert Gimlin northeast of Eureka, Calif., in October 1967.

  • Ohio Bigfoot Encounter -- April 2012

    As a motor biker was driving through the Grand River area of Ohio in April 2012, an alleged Bigfoot ran across the road and was caught on videotape.

  • Depicted is an illustration of a creature reported to inhabit the Kemerovo region of Siberia. Scientists from the U.S., Russia and other countries have yet to find one of these creatures known as the Russian Snowman. In early October, researchers claimed to be 95 percent certain that the animal exists.

  • An alleged footprint of a Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, appears in snow near Mount Everest in 1951. Now, scientists are setting out to find evidence of a reported unknown, hairy, bipedal creature known as the Siberian Snowman.

  • Bigfoot or bear? Impression left on the driver's side window of a pickup truck owned by Jeffrey Gonzalez. The bizarre image was left by an alleged Bigfoot in California's Sierra National Forest over Memorial Day 2011. DNA samples of the impressions will eventually determine the identity of the animal responsible for them. (See next slide for a close-up of the paw-like impression.)

  • Close-up of the "paw" print image. The impression was reportedly left by Bigfoot on the window of a pickup truck in the California Sierra National Forest over Memorial Day weekend 2011.

  • Bigfoot or bear? Pictured is a second impression left on the rear side window of the same truck from the previous slides. According to forensic/law enforcement photographer Mickey Burrow, "What you're seeing is a swipe mark. It looks like a small hand, swiping to the left, leaving another impression, and there's hair within those areas -- you can see where the hair would be."

  • This footprint was found over Memorial Day weekend, 2011, near Fresno, Calif. by a group of campers who were on a Bigfoot-hunting expedition. The print, measuring approximately 12 inches, was found near a truck where possible DNA evidence was left behind by more than one Bigfoot creature.

  • This footprint was found in 2008 in the Sierra National Forest near Fresno, Calif.

  • Thomas Byers snapped this photo of "Bigfoot" along Golden Valley Church Road in Rutherford County on March 22, 2011.

  • Bill Willard is the leader of a group searching for evidence of a Sasquatch or Bigfoot creature, spotted by, among others, his two sons in Spotsylvania County. He is shown on May 19 in Thornburg, Va., with a plaster cast he made from a suspicious footprint several years ago.

  • This still frame image from video provided by Bigfoot Global LLC shows what Whitton and Dyer claimed was a Bigfoot or Sasquatch creature in an undisclosed area of a northern Georgia forest in June 2008.

  • This October 2007 image was taken by an automated camera set up by a hunter in a Pennsylvania forest the previous month. Some said it was a Bigfoot creature; others believed it was just a sick bear.

  • A preserved skull and hand said to be that of a Yeti or Abominable Snowman is on display at Pangboche monastery, near Mount Everest.

  • Idaho State University professor Jeffrey Meldrum displays what he said is a cast of a Bigfoot footprint from eastern Washington in September 2006. Some scientists said the school should revoke Meldrum's tenure.

  • Joedy Cook, director of the Ohio Center for Bigfoot Studies, talks to a visitor to his booth on Oct. 15, 2005, at the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson, Texas. The event, hosted by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, drew enthusiasts and researchers of the legendary creature.

  • Ken Gerhard of Houston, Texas, holds a duplicate plaster cast footprint Oct. 15, 2005, at the Texas Bigfoot Conference. The event, hosted by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, drew enthusiasts and researchers of the legendary creature.

  • Josh Gates, host of Syfy TV's "Destination: Truth," holds a plaster cast of what Malaysian ghost hunters said was a Bigfoot footprint in 2006.

  • Al Hodgson, a volunteer guide at the Willow Creek-China Flat Musuem in California, holds up a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot imprint in 2000. The museum houses a collection of research material donated by the estate of Bob Titmus, who spent his life trying to track the creature.

  • Costume maker Philip Morris, who does not believe the Bigfoot legend, claimed the Patterson-Gimlin film showed a person wearing a gorilla suit that he made.

"We had several fragments that we put into one big sequence and then we matched that against the database and we found human DNA," said Rob Ogden of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, according to the BBC.

"It wasn't too surprising but it was obviously slightly disappointing that you hadn't discovered something brand new. Human was what we were expecting and human is what we got."

The finger went through many hands on the path to its ultimate human revelation -- including, reportedly, the famous hands of Hollywood screen legend Jimmy Stewart.

As the story goes, the finger was first taken from that Nepal monastery in the 50s by explorer Peter Byrne who was on a Yeti expedition funded by American oil millionaire Tom Slick.

Smuggling the finger into London was accomplished with the help of Slick's friend, Stewart, vacationing in India with his wife Gloria, who apparently hid the traveling finger in her lingerie case for the flight to London.

WATCH: THE YETI LEGEND (Story Continues Below)

On his Cryptomundo website, Loren Coleman, author of numerous books about the Yeti and other legendary large, hairy beasts, offers another interesting take on where the mysterious finger came from.

"One logical explanation is that it probably is a sacred hand of a formerly well-known monk whose story was lost to the ages and then a Yeti tale attached to the relic."

But the determined digit found its way into the hands of primatologist William Osman Hill who eventually gave it -- along with other specimens and notes -- to the Royal College of Surgeons. In 2008, the finger was found in Hill's collection.

"We have got a very, very strong match to a number of existing reference sequences on human DNA databases," said Rob Jones, senior scientist at the Zoological Society of Scotland, about initial tests on the finger.

"It's very similar to existing human sequences from China and that region of Asia, but we don't have enough resolution to be confident of a racial identification."

Listen to the entire story unfold on the BBC's Radio 4 program, "Yeti's Finger."