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Pearl Harbor skull unearthed, may be Japanese pilot

Pearl Harbor skull: An excavation crew dredging the harbor recently made the startling discovery of the skull, which archeologists believe is from one of the Japanese aviators in the surprise attack.

In this undated file photo, wreckage identified by the US Navy as a Japanese torpedo plane was salvaged from the bottom of Pearl Harbor following the surprise attack Dec. 7, 1941. An excavation crew recently made a startling discovery at the bottom of Pearl Harbor when it unearthed a skull that archeologists suspect is from a Japanese pilot who died in the historic attack.

AP/File

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Forensic scientists are conducting tests on a skull unearthed at the bottom of Pearl Harborto determine if it belonged to a Japanese pilot who died in the historic attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

An excavation crew dredging the harbor recently made the startling discovery of the skull, which archeologists believe is from one of the Japanese aviators in the surprise attack.

Archaeologist Jeff Fong of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific described the finding to The Associated Press and the efforts under way to identify the skull. He said the early analysis has made him "75 percent sure" that the skull belongs to a Japanese pilot.

He did not provide specifics about what archaeologists have learned about the skull, but said it was not from one of Hawaii's ancient burial sites. They also contacted local police and ruled out the possibility that it's from an active missing person case, said Denise Emsley, public affairs officer for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, which was being inundated with media calls Wednesday about the skull from international news organizations.

The skull was in water between 35 and 40 feet deep, Don Rochon, public affairs officer for NAVFAC Pacific said Thursday.

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