A MOUNTAIN of human bones and animal carcasses has been found in what’s thought to be a hyenas’ lava tube cave in Saudi Arabia.
The gruesome find was discovered in a large underground network of tunnels called Umm Jirsan and hyenas are now being blamed for the bone pile.
The gruesome discovery was made inside a cave system in Saudi ArabiaCredit: Stewart et al., AAS, 2021
Human bones and animal carcasses can be seen in the pileCredit: Stewart et al., AAS, 2021
The Umm Jirsan Cave System spreads over 40 miles beneath the ground and was created by an ancient flow of lava.
According to Live Science, the lava-tube cavern was home to hyenas for thousands of years.
The creatures are thought to have created the mountain of bones over this time by discarding bones from their feasts.
Although some of the bones are human, experts don’t think the hyenas would have killed any people.
Hyenas are scavengers so it’s more likely they dug up buried human remains and made a meal out of it.
The huge pile of bones was found in the lava tube’s western passage.
It’s said to be around 26 to 29 feet wide.
Researchers who worked at the cave published an article about their finds in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.
They wrote: “The size and composition of the bone accumulation, as well as the presence of hyena skeletal remains and coprolites, suggest that the assemblage was primarily accumulated by striped hyena.”
They analysed 1,900 bones from what was described as “extremely dense concentrations”.
Of that selection, over 40 individual creatures were identified including two human skull fragments.
Other animals included camels, dogs, donkeys and goats.
Evidence of hyena chewing and digestion is said to be present on the bones so the researchers ruled out the possibility of other animals being responsible.
Lead study author Mathew Stewart told Live Science: “Striped hyena[s] were the most likely accumulator of bones at Umm Jirsan.
“While predation of humans is possible — and some instances of predation on modern humans [have] been noted — the human remains at Umm Jirsan are likely due to striped hyena scavenging from human grave sites.”
He added: “Sites like these may hold potential keys to understanding the environments and ecologies of the past in arid regions like Arabia.”
It’s thought the site was created by an ancient river of lavaCredit: Stewart et al., AAS, 2021
The cave system is located in the desertCredit: Stewart et al., AAS, 2021
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