The barrel was found abandoned near a trade union office on the shores of a backwater in Kumbalam.
Police reached the area following complaints that foul smell was emanating from the barrel reportedly recovered two months ago during a dredging operation in the backwater.
They found the skeleton in the barrel which was broke open.
Top police officials, including Police Commissioner M P Dinesh, visited the place.
Police said the skeleton had been sent to the Medical College Hospital in Kalamassery for scientific analysis.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)