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What to Do If You Find Bones In Your Backyard

bones in the dirt in a backyard

Imagine you pick up your shovel and start digging in your backyard to prepare for planting some flowers. Suddenly, your shovel stops digging, no matter how much you force it. So you look at the hole and rub your eyes in disbelief. “Are these REAL human bones?!” you ask yourself.

I feel you. Nothing is terrifying like finding skeleton remnants in your land. But don’t worry because, in this article, you’ll find out what to do if you find bones in your backyard.

What to Do If You Find Bones in Your Backyard

The first thing to do when you find bones is to find out if they’re human or not. If you suspect the bones are human, immediately call the police and report what you found. 

You should also avoid touching the remnants because your fingerprints can count as forensic evidence. So, the police might involve you in the investigation. 

human bones

How to Identify Human Bones

The first step to determine if the bones are human is to check their overall size. If they’re too small or big, they belong to an animal. Then, you should notice the other differences between animal and human bones. Here’s a brief guide about the most noticeable differences, but make sure to study the bones by looking only, not touching them.

Skull and Teeth

Humans have large skulls to be able to carry the brain. Animals, on the other hand, have skulls that are smaller than their faces. Also, animal skulls have eye sockets that are recessed and behind the nose, while human skulls have eye sockets above and in front of the nose.

You should also observe the distance between the nose and the eye sockets. If it seems long, you’re most likely dealing with animal bones.

As for teeth, small incisors most likely belong to animals because humans have large ones. However, human canines are much smaller than carnivore canines. 

You might notice a hole at the bottom of the skull. That’s where the spine attaches to the brain. Most animals have this hole in the back of the head, but humans have this hole in the center of the skull. And if you see a chin, the bones are most likely human because most animals don’t have it.


If there’s a femur (thigh) bone, you can easily distinguish between animal and human remnants. Try to observe the length of the femur. Is it long or short? 

Since we, humans, walk on feet, our femur bones are long. Conversely, animals don’t have long femurs since they walk on four limbs. Also, you should take a look at the calf bone. If it doesn’t have two fused bones (tibia and fibula), it belongs to an animal.


Determining if the chest bones are human can be tricky because you’ll find them broken into small pieces in most cases. But I’ll quickly go over the differences. 

Animal rib cages are round and wide, while human ones are much flatter and condensed. Also, humans have spines that are curved in an S shape to help with moving, but animals have straight spines.

What Will Happen After Calling the Authorities?

Once you call the police to report your findings, a medical examiner will come and investigate whether the remains are human. 

Then, he’ll forensically analyze the bones to look for any evidence that leads to the identity of the human. However, if the remains belong to an animal, the police will stop investigating.

What to Do With Animal Bones

If you got lucky and the bones turned out to be an animal’s, you can rebury or throw them away. You can also preserve or use them as a fertilizer for your garden. However, some countries forbid keeping certain animals. So, check with the local authorities first.

If you decide to store the bones, you have to clean them up first. Here’s how:

  1. Mix dishwashing soap with water.
  2. Wash the bones with the mix. 
  3. If the bones are still dirty, put them in a container full of water
  4. To remove the grease, add cream peroxide to the water in a ratio of 1:10, respectively.
  5. Let the greasy bones soak for five minutes. Dry and small bones will need around two minutes max to soak. 
  6. Using a soft brush, gently rub the bones to remove the stains, especially at the ends.
  7. Dry the bones under the sun.

Lastly, if the bones contain too much decay, you won’t be able to store them. In this case, it’s better to dispose of them.


To sum it up, if you find bones in the backyard, you shouldn’t get near them. Instead, you should call the police. Then, the police will send a medical examiner your way to determine if the bones belong to a human or animal. 

If they’re human bones, the police will do further investigation. But if they’re animal bones, there’s nothing to be done. So feel free to rebury or keep them.


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