Signs of blood have been found on items recovered by police searching for missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham.
Ben was 21 months old when he disappeared on the Greek island of Kos in July 1991.
South Yorkshire Police said forensic work was being carried out in Aberdeen to try to extract DNA from the items.
Det Insp Jon Cousins said the development “corroborates and strengthens” the theory Ben died in an accident near to where he disappeared.
Ben went missing while playing near a farmhouse, which was being renovated by his grandfather in Iraklis.
About 60 items discovered during the search were brought back to the UK for analysis, some of which were sent for testing at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen.
Details of the findings have been released on the 26th anniversary of Ben’s disappearance.
Professor Lorna Dawson, head of the soil forensics group, said the team of scientists had discovered the “chemical finger print” of compounds left behind “when there has been decomposition or decay”.
“There’s a strong indication from this chemical profile that this was present on those items as a result of blood decomposition,” she said.
“It’s significant in identifying that there had been a human who had bled in contact with those items.
“The biologist has to come in now and identify who left that blood on that item by extracting the DNA.”
Det Insp Cousins added: “It’s not evidence, it’s intelligence which supports what we believe, that unfortunately and tragically Ben died as a result of an incident at that farmhouse.
“It’s my belief that [the findings] corroborate and strengthen that theory.”