Hippopotamus, elephant and wolf bones dating back to the ice age were all accidentally unearthed during the creation of a heritage trail across three caves, a senior curator said.

Speaking on the fringes of a press conference, John Borg said a lot of small bones were discovered in a room close to Għar Dalam that had previously been shrouded by reeds.

"When we started removing the trees around it, we discovered a lot of small bones that had been deposited there in the early 20th Century," Mr Borg explained.

At the time, excavators had been looking for "spectacular" bones, dumping small remains in the room along the way.

The discovery was made while clearing a path to create a trail which will lead from Għar Dalam, to the Roman Villa at ta' Kaċċatura and the prehistoric temples at Borg in-Nadur.

"We realised we found material that had been excavated and dumped in the room over the years," Mr Borg explained.

One of the particularly interesting findings are wolf bones, he added, explaining remains of carnivorous animals were rarely found.

The findings will now be cleaned and catalogued at the Natural History Museum in Mdina. 

Speaking during a press conference announcing the findings, Culture minister Owen Bonnici said a lot of discoveries were yet to be made at Għar Dalam.

The findings helped shed light on Għar Dalam, Dr Bonnici said.

Children were also visiting the area to learn more about the historic site, Heritage Malta chairman Anton Refalo said.

"One of our biggest duties is to teach children about culture," Mr Refalo said.

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