Imagine being 16,000 feet above sea level in a remote and frigid part of India and stumbling upon a frozen lake containing the remains of hundreds of people. That’s the story of the discovery of Skeleton Lake in 1942 by a British forest ranger.
How and why the skeletons of 200-plus people ended up at the site remains a mystery. Originally, scientists thought the lake contained the remains of Japanese soldiers who died while attempting a land invasion during World War II.
Then, in 2004, DNA testing suggested everyone died at the same time around the year 850, and all from blows to the head. But the skull impacts were too shallow to be from weapons. Stumped, researchers actually turned to a Himalayan folk song for their answer. The song is about a goddess who rains giant hailstones upon anyone who dares enter her mountain sanctuary. Mythical goddess intervention aside, a massive hailstorm made perfect sense as an explanation for the sudden deaths.
The plot thickened just this year, when scientists revealed that it actually appeared the deaths occurred over a 1,000-year history, and theorized that perhaps the skeletons were from religious burials or exploration trips gone awry.
No one knows for sure, adding a sense of intrigue to this seriously disturbing site.