Gruesome mountain of human bones and carcasses found in hyenas lava tube cave

Researchers venturing into a winding lava-tube cavern home to hyenas for thousands of years made an extremely gruesome discovery, a mountain of munched human bones and animal carcasses.

A lava tube is an underground passageway carved by rivers of lava that can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees, once the flow subsides they can leave tunnels exceeding 40 miles.

Researchers found the gruesome mountain in Saudi Arabia's Umm Jirsan lava tube, which is thought to be the longest network of its kind in the country, measuring 4,900 feet long and around 26 to 29 feet.

The "extremely dense accumulation of bones" was found on the lava tube's western passage.

Over 1,900 were analysed by researchers, which reportedly belonged to 40 individual creatures – including two human skull fragments.

Other creatures included donkeys, goat, camels and dogs, Live Science reports.

Experts say that the hyenas probably didn't kill their human prey, but instead, dug up the corpses from nearby burials and devoured them in the underground den.

Other research groups believed that the incredible vast collection of bones were down to wolves, naming the site the "Wolf Den".

But new research has found that the den most likely belonged to striped hyenas, which are known to feast on a variety of different animals, including humans.

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According to the study published by the researchers, chewing and digestion marks left on the bones match those of modern hyenas.

Lead study author Mathew Stewart and researcher 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."

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The researcher added that the discovery and analysis of these hyena habits could provide a good snapshot of biodiversity in a region.

"Sites like these may hold potential keys to understanding the environments and ecologies of the past in arid regions like Arabia," he said.

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