A barrel containing a body has been found near Las Vegas – exposed as the shoreline of nearby Lake Mead recedes during a drought.
Based on personal items found inside the heavily corroded container, the individual died in the 1980s, homicide detective
Lieutenant Ray Spencer said.
The barrel – which looks like an industrial storage drum – was spotted by boaters on Sunday afternoon, police said.
National Park Service rangers then searched an area near the lake’s Hemenway Harbor and found the skeletal remains.
There may be more discoveries, too.
“I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains,” Mr Spencer told KLAS-TV.
The Clark County Medical Examiner was called in to determine the cause of death, and the coroner’s office will try to determine the person’s identity.
The investigation will involve an “extensive amount of work”, Mr Spencer added, and experts at the University of Nevada will be asked to help.
“We’re going to need scientists to weigh in and kind of give us some estimate on how long that person has actually been in the barrel,” he said.
The uppermost water intake on Lake Mead – the largest reservoir in the United States – became visible last week.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell, upstream, are part of a system that provides water to more than 40 million people, agriculture and industry in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and across the southern border in Mexico.