A SEVERED human head has been found underneath the famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.
Two women made the gruesome discovery after spotting their dogs playing with something they had pulled out of the bushes near Canyon Drive in Griffith Park.
On closer inspection they realised it was a human head wrapped in a plastic bag.
The women, who had been hiking with nine dogs on a popular trail from the Griffith Observatory, called park rangers around 2.30pm. The rangers subsequently informed police.
"Two dogs were playing with it, and that's when the dog walkers looked closer and realised it was a human head," said Karen Rayner, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Cadaver dogs were brought to the scene to search for the missing body, but were called off at dusk. The search is expected to resume at first light.
The victim is believed to be an Armenian American man in his 40s, described as having "salt-and-pepper" hair.
Police believe the head had recently been disposed of due to the absence of animal bites and decay. The cause or circumstances of the death are unknown.
The Los Angeles County coroner is looking at dental records to try and identify the victim.
The Hollywood sign, which was built in 1923 to promote a housing development, was almost sold in 2010 but $1 million donations from Hugh Hefner, Aileen Getty and the Tiffany and Co ensured the area was acquired by the Trust for Public Land.
The sign on Mount Lee originally read Hollywoodland but the last few letters deteriorated in the late 1940s. The part that remained was restored in 1978.