An investigator with the state medical examiner's office says a human skull found recently by a group of schoolchildren is probably that of a male Fremont Indian who lived at least two centuries ago.

Rudi Riet said he believes the skull is 200-400 years old.Students at Whittier Elementary found the skull and a hand behind the school and the South High football field near 1500 S. Second East, said Salt Lake police officer Bruce Maxwell.

"The kids kept it their secret for a week," he said, and kept the skull and hand under a board at a nearby house. The students mentioned the skull to their teacher, who informed the principal, who informed police.

Homicide detectives were called to the scene but are convinced the skull does not warrant an investigation, said Maxwell.

"It's intriguing, but there doesn't appear to be any criminal aspect involved," Riet said. "It's probably something someone found while poking around in the desert somewhere and brought back to town.

"Once removed from its archaeological site, it loses a lot of its meaning," he said.

When police arrived, the children were unable to find the hand. Maxwell said the hand was there in the morning but is now missing.