A man in Alabama has reported a human skull to authorities after finding his dogs playing with it in his yard.
It’s unclear where the dogs found the skull, but the pets were known to roam a large wooded area near the man’s home in Birmingham, according to a report from the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. The man made the discovery just after 10 a.m. on Friday as he left for work, according to the report.
“The skull was found to be significantly weathered and most likely represents a death that occurred years earlier,” said a report by Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Bill Yates sent to the United States today.
Yates said his office would examine the skull for clues of identity and cause of death, but noted that its exposure to the elements would make that difficult.
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“Damage from animal exposure and activity is common and should not be assumed to be the result of trauma from aggression,” Yates wrote in a statement to USA TODAY, adding that DNA analysis would also be performed and the case would be submitted to a national missing persons database.
“All of this will take months to complete,” Yates said.
A Birmingham Police Department spokesman said the department was investigating the case as an “unclassified death”. Police swept the area and found no other remains, department spokeswoman Keaira Turner said.