A second skeleton was found tangled in the century-old roots of a Connecticut tree that was toppled by Hurricane Sandy, and investigators said there could be more.
The facial bones of at least two people were found beneath the New Haven tree, along with a hand-wrought coffin nail that dated back to the 18th century, anthropologists and investigators from the state medical examiner’s office said, according to the New Haven Independent.
The first bones were found on Tuesday afternoon after the giant oak, which stood in the 16-acre New Haven Green park and was known locally as the Lincoln Oak, was felled by Hurricane Sandy’s 80-mph winds.
Investigators were working to identify the sex, age and cause of death of the bodies, the Independent reported.
“There may be more,” Yale anthropologist Gary Aronson said.
The nail suggested the bodies were buried sometime in the late 1700s, investigators said.
The park was a cemetery from the 1650s to 1821, when most of the bodies were exhumed and moved to a another burial plot.
According to one Connecticut health blogger, the pair could have been victims of a smallpox epidemic that struck the region during the Colonial era.
A post on CT Health Central, a health news blog, cited a 1897 historical account saying the park was once an ad-hoc burial ground for Colonial smallpox victims.
Aronson, and a specialist from the medical examiner’s office, Alfredo Camargo, would be working at the site for at least a week, the Independent reported.
Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso told the newspaper that any bones that were found would eventually be reburied, but it wasn’t clear when or where yet.
The Lincoln Oak was planted on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1909.