LOS ANGELES -- A fragment of bone has been recovered from the wreckage of millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett's plane crash and will be analyzed to determine whether it is human, police said Friday.
Madera County Sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart said rescuers found the bone while poring over the mangled and scattered remains of Fossett's aircraft, which was discovered on a remote California mountainside late Wednesday.
"We recovered a small piece of bone matter. We will have tested to see if it is human or animal," Stuart told AFP. "It's being tested by the Department of Justice forensics lab."
It was unclear when results of the analysis would be confirmed, Stuart said, cautioning it "may take weeks."
The sheriff's department comments came after officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday "human remains" had been recovered from the wreckage of Fossett's plane.
However the sheriff's department, the lead agency in the search for Fossett's body, refused to confirm the statement.
An official speaking on condition of anonymity said the NTSB's assertion the remains were human was premature.
Fossett, who set more than 100 records during a remarkable thrill-seeking career, disappeared in September 2007 after taking off on a solo flight from a private airstrip in Nevada.
Despite a massive month-long search of rugged wilderness, no trace of his plane was found until this week, when a hiker stumbled on identity cards belonging to the aviator in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Mammoth Lakes.
The find led to the discovery of Fossett's plane on Wednesday. Investigators said the aircraft appeared to have slammed head on into the mountain at high speed, describing the accident as a "non-survivable" crash.
However no trace of Fossett's body has been confirmed at the site, a densely forested and rocky slope at an elevation of 10,000 feet which is home to bears and mountain lions.
Wildlife experts and police have speculated wild animals may have devoured the aviator's remains, which could explain why Fossett's identity cards were found around a quarter of a mile from the crash site.
Copyright 2008 AFP