A man in Alabama reported a human skull to authorities after he found his dogs playing with it in his yard.
It was 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 Jefferson County coroner’s office report. The man made the discovery Friday just after 10 a.m. as he was leaving for work, the report said.
“The skull was found to be significantly weathered, and most likely represents a death that occurred years prior,” said a report Jefferson County deputy coroner Bill Yates sent to USA TODAY.
Yates said his office would examine the skull for clues for an identity and cause of death but noted that its exposure to the elements would make doing so difficult.
'Return to nature': California legalizes human composting for environmental benefits
“The damage because of exposure and animal activity is common and you should not assume it is a result of trauma due to an assault,” Yates wrote in a statement to USA TODAY, adding that DNA analysis would also be done and the case submitted to a national missing persons database.
"All of this will take months to complete," Yates said.
A Birmingham Police Department spokesperson said the department was investigating the case as an “unclassified death.” Police swept the area and found no other remains, department spokesperson Keaira Turner said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alabama man finds his dogs playing with a human skull in his yard