Scientists discover hundreds of thousands of animal, human bones in Saudi Arabia cave

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
2 min read

Scientists have discovered hundreds of thousands of animal and human remains in a cave in northwestern Saudi Arabia, which they believe were gathered by striped hyenas over the past 7,000 years.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The discovery was made in the Umm Jirsan lava tube, a 1.5-kilometer tunnel filled with “beautifully preserved” remains located in the Kingdom’s Harrat Kaybar lava field, the scientists wrote in a published study.

The discovery included bones of cattle, caprids, horses, camels, rodents, and even humans.

The accumulation of the bones over thousands of years shows that the lava tube makes for “excellent conditions for preservation of bone,” scientist Stewie Stewart said in a Twitter thread.

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

The scientists were able to conclude that the remains were brought in by stiped hyenas based on their studies of the types of bones, frequencies and locations.

“These critters are avid collectors of bones, which they transport to dens to be consumed, fed to young, or cached,” Stewart said.

Despite the study focusing on hyenas, the scientists concluded in their published article that “donkeys have been an important livestock in the region for thousands of years.”

A photo of a striped hyena. (Twitter)
A photo of a striped hyena. (Twitter)

“Umm Jirsan (and other similar sites in the region) is likely to hold valuable insights into the ecologies and environments of Holocene Arabia. This study is just the tip of the iceberg,” Stewart said.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia discovers 6th-century rock inscriptions of Babylonian king in Hail

Tales as old as time: Get to know Saudi Arabia’s Thamudic petroglyphs

New discovery: Saudi Arabia’s ancient stone structures older than Egyptian pyramids

Top Content Trending