A POLICE investigation has been reopened into a skull that was hauled in by fisherman off Hartlepool.
The bones were landed by a Whitby boat on February 14, 2008, but detectives have yet to work out how it got there or who it belonged to.
Theories include that it belonged to a Second World War serviceman or that it could have been from a burial at sea.
Tests suggested it was that of a western European male aged between 20 to 50 years old. DNA has also been extracted from the skull.
The information was checked against missing persons databases, but no matches were found.
The case is one of eight historic cases re-opened by North Yorkshire Police.
A North Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “In the case of this skull there are several hypothesises as to its origin. It could be that of a serviceman killed during the war, a burial at sea, a person swept out to sea or something else.”
Police say it is difficult to identify a whole body, but even harder to identify body parts as there are fewer chances of finding anything notable, such as a scar or tattoo.
The skull is said to have been in the water for a minimum of two years, but could have been submerged for much longer, so key features have been washed away.
One distinctive feature is that he was missing his left front tooth during life, which could have been due to trauma or a congenital absence of the tooth.
Detectives also say not all missing people are reported to the police and historic records are not always comprehensive.
A computer impression from the skull was made shortly after the skull was found and information has been passed to forces across the region.
Anyone with information that can help investigators should ring North Yorkshire police on (0845) 6060247.