REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — A pair of kayakers made a startling discovery when they spotted a skull on the shores of the Minnesota River.
Passing kayakers contacted authorities believing they had found evidence of a missing person. Renville County authorities asked the FBI to help identify the partial skull and discovered on Tuesday that the skull was very old, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable said the FBI said that it was thousands of years old.
“That it was human, it was that of a young man, and most surprisingly that it was, they thought, about 8,000 years old,” Hable told MPR.
According to the New York Times, an F.B.I. forensic anthropologist analyzed the skull using carbon dating, a method for determining the age of organic material by using a radioactive isotope of carbon.
The skull likely belonged to a young man who subsisted on a marine diet, Kathleen Blue, a professor of anthropology at Minnesota State University told the NYT on Wednesday.
“There’s probably not that many people at that time wandering around Minnesota 8,000 years ago, because, like I said, the glaciers have only retreated a few thousands years before that. That period, we don’t know much about it,” Blue told the Times.
She believes the skull was that of an ancestor of one of the tribes in the area.
Skull to be returned to Native American officials
On Wednesday, the Renville County Sheriff’s Office posted the skull discovery on Facebook. Following the post, various Native American groups told the sheriff’s office that posting images of the skull was “very offensive to the Native American culture,” according to NYT.
Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Cultural Resources Specialist Dylan Goetsch said that they were not notified of the discovery as required by Minnesota state law.
Hable told The Associated Press that his office later removed the post.
He has contacted the state archeologist and the remains will be turned over to Upper Sioux Community tribal officials.
Severe drought reveals the past
Reduced water levels caused by drought have exposed shorelines across the country. At least two bodies were discovered on the shores of Nevada’s drought-stricken Lake Mead earlier this month. Those remains were believed to be gunshot victims from the mid- to late-1970s or early 1980s.
A two-decade megadrought continues to impact the western United States. Most of Oregon, California, Colorado, Utah and Nevada and parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Idaho are in abnormally dry, moderate or severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
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