Thousands of human and animal bones discovered in horror underground lava cave

Dr. Mathew Stewart from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and his research team suspect that the bones were carried to the Umm Jirsan cave in Saudi Arabia by hyenas over the past 7,000 years

Umm Jirsan Cave in Saudi Arabia is filled with thousands of human and animal bones (

Image: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences)

Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of bones in an underground cave in Saudi Arabia.

The gruesome cemetery contains human bones and at least 14 different species of animals, including cattle, horses and rodents.

The team of researchers who found the bones suggested that hyenas carried them to Umm Jirsan Cave over the past 7,000 years.

The cave is a tortuous system of lava tubes and volcanic activity has created the hollowed out rock cylinder that was left behind.

The volcanic fields of Harrat Khaybar are just under a mile long, making them the longest lava tube in the area.

The cave is a tortuous system of lava tubes and volcanic activity has created the hollowed out cylinders
(

Image:

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences)

Scientists studied the underground system for more than a decade before analyzing the bones found there.

Study author Dr. Mathew Stewart from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany wrote on Twitter: “This lava tube is packed full of hundreds of thousands of beautifully preserved animal remains.”

Dr. Stewart and colleagues analyzed the location and frequency of cuts and scratches on the bones to find out how the bones got there.

Researchers have suggested that the bones were carried into the cave of Umm Jirsan by hyenas over the past 7,000 years
(

Image:

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences)

The team concluded that the bones were brought in by striped hyenas, a species native to the Middle East.

They are said to be avid collectors of bones that they bring to their burrows to eat, feed to young, or keep for later use.

Skeletal remains of striped hyenas and their fossilized feces have also been found in the caves, further substantiating their theory.

In 2013, researchers who worked in the cave reported hearing growling noises, suggesting it was still an active site.

Dr. Stewart said cave bones are unusually well preserved and provide insight into biodiversity spanning thousands of years.

He tweeted: “The material at Umm Jirsan has accumulated over the past 7,000 years and testifies to the excellent conditions for the preservation of bones in the lava tube.

“In a region where bone preservation is very, very poor, sites like Umm Jirsan offer an exciting new resource.”

The research was published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

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