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Filled with human bones: scientists reveal the gruesome secret of the Lake of Skeletons in the Himalayas

Alina MilsentNews
The lake and the skeletons. Illustrative image

Among the mountain peaks of the Himalayas is a strange and eerie Lake Roopkund, also called the Lake of Skeletons. At an altitude of more than 5000 meters, hundreds of scattered bodies lie there. Local legends mention a terrible "mountain hail" that once killed a group of people.

Scientists analyzed the bones' genomes and came to a puzzling conclusion: it turns out that the bodies were separated by thousands of years and had very different origins. The Ifl Science publication told more about the eerie mystery.

Probably, the legends have some truth, because some of the skulls found at the site had damage similar to that caused by stone hail. Almost half of the victims were women, but none of the skeletons were connected to each other.

Filled with human bones: scientists reveal the gruesome secret of the Lake of Skeletons in the Himalayas

Scientists took genomic DNA samples from 38 skeletons from Roopkund and identified different ethnic groups. Most of the dead were local, but the DNA of 14 others indicated a genetic heritage from the eastern Mediterranean, most likely the Greek islands.

Radiocarbon dating showed that the locals died more than 1000 years ago, while the other group of victims came to the Lake of Skeletons much later, probably around 1800. What is even more surprising is that the older group appears to have come from many parts of India, with at least two centuries of difference between the oldest and youngest in this population.

Professor David Reich of Harvard Medical School noted that Roopkund hides many mysteries that cannot be solved yet. The scientists performed biomolecular analyzes, used stable isotopes and radiocarbon dating, conducted DNA analysis and found that not only ancient locals but also people from the eastern Mediterranean died in a forgotten place in the middle of high mountain ranges.

"And the latter died at this site only a few hundred years ago," Reich emphasized.

The study was also facilitated by natural conditions: millennial DNA can rarely "survive" in hot climates, and the alpine lake is one of the few places that could have contributed to the preservation of genetic information.

Filled with human bones: scientists reveal the gruesome secret of the Lake of Skeletons in the Himalayas

Some researchers suggest that the travelers were pilgrims going to some place of prayer or temple, but the question of the cause of death of two groups of people millennia apart remains open.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that the Earth's glaciers may contain a "factor X" that can destroy the population.

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