Forensic scientists are conducting tests on a skull unearthed at the bottom of Pearl Harbor to determine if it is that of a Japanese pilot who died in the historic attack on Dec. 7, 1941. An excavation crew dredging the harbor recently made the startling discovery; after early analysis, an expert is about "75% sure" that the skull belongs to a Japanese pilot. The items found with the skull, which was determined not to be from a Native Hawaiian, provided some clues: forks, scraps of metal, and a Coca-Cola bottle researchers have determined was from the 1940s.
It's rare to find remains in Hawaii, said a Japanese official said—in fact, no Japanese remains have been found at Pearl Harbor since World War II. One historian notes that because Pearl Harbor experts know enough about the specific location where Japanese planes went down in the attack, they might be able to match the skull with a crewmember. Fifty-five Japanese airmen were killed and 29 of their aircraft were shot down in the attack, compared with the 2,400 Americans who died.