French police believe wild animals may have dragged the human remains linked to missing hiker Esther Dingley to where they were found last week.
Commander Jean-Marc Bordinaro said he needed to be “cautious while the identification process is underway.”
“Everything suggests that these bones were recently moved by animals. They would not have been there a few days earlier.”
Police have asked for Ms Dingley’s dental records following the discovery near her last known location in the Pyrenees.
The 37-year-old had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22, with the charity representing her family saying on Friday it was “aware of the discovery” of the remains.
Her mother Ria Bryant, 74, moved to the Pyrenees in June to help search for Ms Dingley.
She told the Sunday Times following the reported uncovering of remains: “The dentist is sending a scan of Esther’s teeth. We have to send it to the consulate in Bordeaux.”
Ms Dingley had been living in France with her partner, Daniel Colegate, but he was house-sitting at a French farmhouse when she went off on her own.
The couple, who have been together for almost 19 years, met at Oxford University and lived in Durham before they set off travelling around Europe in a camper van six years ago.