A barrel containing human remains was found in the receding shoreline of Lake Mead near Las Vegas and more bodies are likely to be exposed in the giant reservoir as drought continues to send the water level to record lows, police said on Monday.

The heavily corroded barrel, resembling an industrial storage drum as pictured in a photograph posted online by local CBS News affiliate KLAS-TV, was spotted by boaters on Sunday, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Investigators suspect the individual whose remains were inside the conainer was killed in the 1980s based on personal items found with the barrel, police homicide detective Lieutenant Ray Spencer said.

"I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains" at the bottom of the reservoir, Spencer said in an interview with KLAS.

Spencer told KLAS police would seek assistance from experts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, "because we're going to need scientists to weigh in and kind of give us some estimate on how long that person has actually been in the barrel."

"It's going to take an extensive amount of work," he said.

The remains were discovered on the grounds of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service, and the Clark County Medical Examiner was contacted to determine the cause of death, the agency said in a release.

The barrel in question was found partially buried in a portion of the lake bed newly laid bare by receding waters of the reservoir, the largest in the United States, formed in the 1930s by construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border.