Log In

Not a Coast Insider Member? Sign up

'Skeleton Lake' DNA Study Produces Puzzling Results

article's image

By Tim Binnall

An intriguing new DNA study attempting to unravel the mystery of a macabre site in the Himalayas known as 'Skeleton Lake' wound up producing some rather confounding results. The eerie location, discovered during World War II and officially dubbed 'Roopkund Lake,' contains hundreds of skeletons of unknown origin. Over the years, researchers have offered a variety of theories for where the bodies could have come from, with the most prevalent hypothesis being that the unfortunate individuals all died simultaneously from some kind of catastrophe.

However, a fresh examination of a sample of the remains indicates that the story of Skeleton Lake is far more complex. In a newly published paper, scientists detail how they performed genomic testing on 38 skeletons taken from the site and discovered that their age, as well as their background, differ dramatically. Specifically, the researchers found that 23 of the bodies were of South Asian ancestry and perished sometime between the 7th and 10th centuries. Amazingly, 14 of the remains were of eastern Mediterranean ancestry and died a whopping 1000 years later.

It is that latter group which has proven to particularly perplexing to researchers as they cannot explain why eastern Mediterranean people would have been in the area at that time. The presence of these apparent visitors to the region, they say, may indicate that gruesome nature of Roopkund Lake was more than merely a local curiosity and, instead, was something that captured the imagination of people around the world who had gotten word of the creepy location covered in skeletons.

Last Night

Science journalist Robert Zimmerman discussed private space enterprise and shared commentary on COVID-19. Followed by Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. on her research into pandemic dreams.

More »


Full Schedule »


Sign up for our free CoastZone e-newsletter to receive exclusive daily articles.


Content Goes Here