The piece of a human skull found last month on the Niagara Escarpment came from a lab specimen, Hamilton police announced Monday.

The Centre for Forensic Sciences (CFS) says the bone comes from a “prepared anatomical specimen,” which are typically used as teaching aids and aren’t illegal to own.

Teaching aid skeletons are usually made from plastic, but human models can still be bought from medical supply companies and online.

A hiker found the remains in October around McNeilly Road and 8th Road East, near where police searched for the remains of a missing developmentally disabled woman last year.

Police previously combed a field nearby looking for the remains of Shirley Treadwell, a Stoney Creek woman with a mental disability. Treadwell is believed to have died in 2009. Police were alerted to her death last June. The bones found last month came from an Asian man, police say.

Police also found a handful of bones in their search last November. Further investigation revealed they came from an animal.

Homicide Det. Peter Thom told CBC Hamilton that he has never come across a lab specimen skull before in a search. “But you never know. That’s why we leave it up to the experts,” he said.

It’s possible the skull was just dumped in the field by a person cleaning out a basement or closet, he says. “I would think most people wouldn’t dispose of it in a public place,” Thom said.

Police are still interested in figuring out how the skull ended up on the escarpment so the investigation can be closed.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 905-546-3843.