Underwater archeologists have discovered a human skeleton in the celebrated Antikythera shipwreck. The remains are well-preserved enough scientists may possibly extract DNA, which could shed light on the lives of the people who were aboard the large ship when it sank nearly 2,100 years ago.

Researchers discovered the skeleton in August while conducting excavation work at the wreck, which lies at the bottom of the Aegean Sea off the Greek island of Antikythera.

Amid the debris, archeologists found three teeth, a partial skull, arm bones, leg bones and pieces of rib. They also found petrous bone, a dense part of the skull behind the ear, which gives the best possibility that researchers can extract DNA from the remains of the doomed seafarer.

The remains are believed to belong to a young man. The victim was also possibly a slave as hinted by his bones that were stained amber red because of the corroded iron chains that surround them. The man may have been unable to escape because of the chains.

"This is the most exciting scientific discovery we've made here," said Brendan Foley, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who is part of the team that explores the wreck site. "We think he was trapped in the ship when it went down and he must have been buried very rapidly or the bones would have gone by now."

It is rare to find skeletons in shipwrecks because the victims tend to be eaten by marine animals, swept away or decay. DNA expert Hannes Schroeder, from Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, said that despite the odds, the bones survived after more than 2,000 years of lying on the ocean floor and appear to be in good condition.

The research team holds off attempt to extract DNA from the remains until permission is granted to them by the Greek authorities. Once permission is obtained, the samples will undergo extensive analyses in labs.

If enough DNA is extracted from the bones, it could help shed light on the ethnicity and geographic origin of the people who were aboard the ill-fated ship. It could likewise reveal the victim's familial heritage and age.

Historians believe the ship was traveling from Greece to Rome, and results of DNA analyses may help confirm or challenge this theory.

This is not the first time that human remains were found at the Antikythera shipwreck, but this is the first since the advent of DNA studies.

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