The skeletal remains of a human body were found inside of an old corroded barrel near the shores of Nevada’s Lake Mead over the weekend, as an ongoing drought sends water levels to troubling lows. Items found inside the barrel suggest this person, whose identity is unknown, may have died in the 1980s, the Associated Press reports.
Las Vegas police plan to consult experts at the University of Nevada in hopes of finding out when the barrel began to erode, according to the AP. Officers on the case did not share details about the items in the barrel or a potential cause of death, KLAS-TV reports.
What is now a “beach” section along the lake where the barrel was discovered used to be covered by several dozen feet of water a few decades ago. Crew members working at the Hemenway Harbor boat ramp near the remains have had to extend the ramp hundreds of feet over the years to keep up with the dwindling water levels, according to KLAS-TV.
Lake Mead is one of the country’s largest water reservoirs, alongside Lake Powell. Both are being affected by the megadrought across the American Southwest. More than half of the country is expected to experience some sort of drought conditions this spring and summer. As these historic dry conditions continue, it’s likely that Lake Mead more previously sunken items—and perhaps human remains—will emerge from the receding waters.