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Human jawbone found in Carlsbad possibly belongs to white or Hispanic adult male

Testing by the medical examiner showed the bone was out in the elements for about two years.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — A human jawbone found three weeks ago in a Carlsbad creek bed has been identified as possibly from a white or Hispanic adult male, police said on Monday.

CBS 8 obtained photos and video of the mandible from the man who found it on July 3 downstream from El Salto Falls, off Highway 78 near College Blvd.

The man who found the mandible asked not to be identified. He said he found the bone in about three feet of water while collecting tiny shellfish along the creek bed.

“Pretty much it was just a regular fishing trip, just like any other weekend that we do,” said the man, who was with his brother at the time.

“There are these things called Asian clams, and I started digging for them with my hands. On one of the scoops I felt something hit my fingers, but I didn't think much of it.  When I went back in to scoop again, I picked up the jawbone,” he said.

The man collects Asian clams to put them in his aquarium at his house in Vista.

“They're pretty cool. They filtrate the water. They're like little filter systems for the microscopic bacteria and stuff,” he said.

The creek where he found the mandible can flow strong during the rainy season, then slows down in summer months.

He took two photos and one video of the bone.

Credit: Obtained by CBS 8

“It just looked really old to me. I mean, it only had three teeth left on it.  It was the two front teeth and one molar in the back,” he said.

After reporting the find to the Vista Sheriff's office, search teams responded to the area, including a dive team.  But the sheriff did not report finding any more human remains.

The jawbone was turned over to the medical examiner's office for DNA testing.

“The investigation is ongoing and investigators continue to search the area for more information and/or evidence,” a spokesperson for Carlsbad police emailed CBS 8 on Monday.

The creek bed where the jawbone was found is the site of a former Indian village.

But testing by the medical examiner showed the remains appeared to be from a white or Hispanic male; results confirmed by an anthropologist, who examined the photos and video at the request of CBS 8.

“It looks to be male to me,” said Tori Randall, an anthropology professor with San Diego City College.

Randall said the mandible appeared to be from an adult, because the rear molar had grown in.

The condition of the teeth indicated it probably was not from an American Indian, Randall said.

“You would usually see wear on American Indian teeth because -- especially along the coast in California -- you see wear because of eating shellfish where you get little, tiny bits of sand in with the shellfish.  So, it would wear down the teeth.  This mandible doesn't seem to have that amount of wear on the one molar that's still there,” Randall said.

The professor also believes the remains belonged to a person who only had three teeth on his lower jaw at the time of his death.

“If the tooth fell out after death, you would still see a socket.  You would see a little hole where that tooth used to be.  The fact that you can't see any of those holes means that the bone healed over,” she said.

Carlsbad police said they believe the bone had been in the elements for about two years. They continue to compare the evidence they have recovered to unsolved missing persons cases.

“So, they would go through missing persons records and see how many of those missing people only had three teeth in their lower jaw by looking at their dental records,” Randall said.

If you have any information about the remains call the Carlsbad Police Department at (442) 339-5569.

WATCH RELATED: Skeletal remains found in Huntington Beach not Maya Millete (April 2021).

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