A partial skull that was discovered last summer by two kayakers in Minnesota will be returned to Native American officials after investigations determined it was about 8,000 years old.
The kayakers found the skull in the drought-depleted Minnesota River about 110 miles (180 kilometers) west of Minneapolis, Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable said.
Thinking it might be related to a missing person case or murder, Hable turned the skull over to a medical examiner and eventually to the FBI, where a forensic anthropologist used carbon dating to determine it was likely the skull of a young man who lived between 5500 and 6000 B.C., Hable said.
“It was a complete shock to us that that bone was that old,” Hable told Minnesota Public Radio.
The anthropologist determined the man had a depression in his skull that was “perhaps suggestive of the cause of death.”
After the sheriff posted about the discovery on Wednesday, his office was criticized by several Native Americans, who said publishing photos of ancestral remains was offensive to their culture.
Hable said his office removed the post.
“We didn’t mean for it to be offensive whatsoever,” Hable said.
Hable said the remains will be turned over to Upper Sioux Community tribal officials.