Bone fragment may not be enough to identify Steve Fossett

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Washington, October 5 : A bone fragment possibly belonging to missing air-adventurer Steve Fossett may not identify the aviator.

The two-and-a-half-inch long fragment, allegedly human, was found amidst the wreckage of Fossett's plane and has been sent for forensic investigation.

"When you find a bone fragment, there's no way to know, until you give it to a forensic lab, whether it's human or animal," Wired News quoted Erica Stuart, a spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff's Department, as saying.

"We won't know until it's analysed," she added.

The bone reportedly belonging to Fossett, who was legally declared dead in February this year, was found by the investigators after a hiker spotted his pilot's licence and ID cards.

National Transportation Safety Board's acting chairman Mark Rosenker had reasoned Fossett's death from a 'high-impact crash which appears to be consistent with a non-survivable accident.'

Though Rosenker revealed that genetic analysis would determine the origin of the bone, some forensic scientists could not guarantee it.

Anthony Falsetti, Director of the University of Florida's human identification laboratory, said: "The passage of time is going to be the greatest problem in this case.

"He's been dead for thirteen months, and that bone has been sitting out, subject to the weather, to anything that could happen to that bone from an animal or the environment."

It is possible that condensation, temperature fluctuations and distress by scavengers might have damaged the bone's DNA making it difficult to identify it with samples from Fossett.

However, if the forensic investigators are able to match the bone's DNA with that of Fossett, it would then dismiss raised speculations that the millionaire balloonist might have faked his own death to avoid paying devastatingly heavy debts.

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