Lake of Skeletons mystery: Experts baffled by shrinking lake that holds 800 human remains

Roopkund Lake has baffled scientists for almost 80 years following a discovery from a British forest ranger in 1941. The lake is located 5,029 metres (16,500ft) above sea level, and expands and shrinks with the seasons. When it shrinks, it reveals the remains of up to 800 people who have seemingly been laid to rest in the region.

How the assembly of dead bodies came to be in the lake is unknown and dozens of groups of researchers have tried to shed a light on the reasoning behind the remains over the years.

One theory had suggested it was a local civilisation which was wiped out during a cataclysmic weather event.

Another theory stated it was an army who had died in battle while in the shallow shores of Roopkund Lake.

A third suggestion is that it was the burial ground for a local village which was hit by an epidemic.

However, the latest study has found that none of these events could possibly be true.

Researchers from 16 different institutions across the planet analysed some of the remains and found the genetic diversity through the corpses varied massively.

This suggests all of the individuals were from different backgrounds.

For example, some of the individuals were found to be similar to people living in southeast Asia, while others were more similar to modern-day Europe, particularly those on the Greek island of Crete.

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“Radiocarbon dating indicates that these remains were not deposited simultaneously.

“Instead, all of the individuals with South Asian-related ancestry date to 800 CE (but with evidence of being deposited in more than one event), while all other individuals date to 1800 CE.”

Eadaoin Harney, the lead author of the study, and a doctoral student at Harvard University, told Soutik Biswas of the BBC: “It upends any explanations that involved a single catastrophic event that lead to their deaths.

“It is still not clear what happened at Roopkund Lake, but we can now be certain that the deaths of these individuals cannot be explained by a single event.

“We are still searching for answers.”

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