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Forensic Anthropology

Case Study #3

Heather Lightell

on 8 April 2015

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Transcript of Forensic Anthropology

Forensic Anthropology
Case #3
Bob has a very interesting story to tell you.
Orbits are rounded square
Nasal bones are elongated and narrow
Nasal Apparatus is pear shaped
Nasal sill and spine are present and pronounced- making him of European decent.

What is in the box...
2 patellas
2 innominate bones
2 hyoid bones
1 skull
1 mandible
1 humerus
1 femur
1 tibia
1 clavicle
1 scapula
1 sternum
How Many People?

Upon examination of the bones and based on the information that was provided to us, we have come to the conclusion that there are at least 2 people, perhaps more. Since these bones were found in a mass burial in Smithfield, England, it is difficult to determine exactly how many people are represented in our box. There are a few bones that let us know we were definitely looking at 2 people. These bones are listed as follows:
How Many People con't
2 right patella
2 innominate bones (one male, one female)
2 hyoid bones (one male and one female)
1 mandible (female)
1 skull (male)

When did they die....
Carbon 14 dating was performed on the teeth of our skull and mandible. The results dated these bones back 663 yBP, which would put the year of death at approximately 1352. At this time in history, England was engulfed with the Black Plague. Mass burials were made to quickly dispose of the bodies to try and contain this disease. We believe that our bones were from such a burial.
Sexing a Skeleton

There are methods and distinguishing features of bones that can be utilized and studied to determine sex.
Different Methods
analysis, is a visual inspection of known human characteristics and can be used to determine male or female. For example, a large mastoid process, and robust features may indicate the subject is male.
Sexing a Skeleton cont.
analysis can also provide insight when attempting to determine sex. This method looks at measurements and uses average male and female lengths, widths etc.
Let's examine our femur.
The average length of a male
femur is 450.82mm. The
left femur found in this case
measures 469.9mm.
Therefore, we can conclude that
this person was likely male and fairly tall.

Extended zygomatic process
Prominent brow ridge
Using the Skull
There are many characteristics
of the skull that can be used
to help with sexing.
Elongated mastoid process
Just click here to find out!
Sexing cont.
Upon examining the skull certain characteristics were present to conclude that this skeleton was of European decent. Such as:
The Orbits are rounded square/linear
Nasal bones are elongated/narrow
Nasal Apparatus is pear shaped/triangular
Nasal Sill and Spine are present and well pronounced
Malar Tubercule is present

Meet Bob

We believe this to be the skull of
a male because of:
Prominent brow ridge
Elongated mastoid process
Extended zygomatic process
Sexing con't
The Phenice Method states that the accuracy of estimating sex increases with the presence of the pelvic girdle.
Use of the Phenice method includes the examination of the:
1) Ventral arc
2) Subpubic concavity
3) Ischiopubic ramus
Upon examination of the 2 innominate bones we have, our conclusions are that the left belongs to a female due to a wide and rounded sciatic notch, oval and angled subpubic concavity, ventral arc caves in and the ramus is pinched.
It is likely that the right innominate bone belongs to a male due to the sciatic notch being more narrow; in addition, the subpubic concavity is in a teepee shape and the ramus is thick.
Sexing Using the Skull cont.
The nuchal crest is another feature that can be examined when making a determination of sex.
This area of the skull is usually smooth in females and more pointed or even hooked in males.
We believe our skull comes from a male due to the pronounced hook shape of the nuchal crest. The photo demonstrates this clearly. It
is also noteworthy to observe that this area of the skull is very rough in males were there is more muscle attachment.
Nuchal Crest
Human or Non-Human?
We believe the remains are human due to the shape and size of the skull, mandible and other bones as well as the circumstances in which the bones were discovered.
The bones in the box have these characteristics:
The skull has a high forehead and flattened face
The mandible is "U" shaped with a prominent chin
Teeth on the skull and mandible have molars and smaller teeth rather than canine teeth
The innominate bones are short and wide
The pelvic bone is short, wide and bowl shaped
No prominent canine teeth

Biological Age
The average male lifespan at that time period was 46.
Since the suture lines were smooth, we are assuming the male was getting older.
We believe both the male and the female to be between the ages of 30-45.
We've determined that he is older through the Osteolytic lesions caused by Osteoclasts on the posterior of the skull
It is rare to see these lesions on younger individuals
Sexing a Skeleton cont.
We can examine another long bone, the humerus. The length of the average male humerus is 334mm. Through our examination, we have discovered that our subject's humerus is 330.2mm. We can conclude from this that our humerus is likely from a male subject.
analysis cont.
Suture lines
Sexing a Skeleton cont.
The mandible can also be examined to help reinforce a more definitive determination of sex. We believe the mandible found in our case to be female. The characteristics outlined in the photos explains why.
Narrow "u" shape

*Bubonic Plague*
40 million people killed in mid-14th Century, Western Europe (60% of the population in Europe)
Bubonic Variant


- Yersinia Pestis
Cause of Death
How it’s spread:
Wider angle of the jaw; greater than 90 degrees.
- Infected fleas attached themselves to rats, then to humans
- Infection took 3-5 days to incubate in people before they became ill

- Swelling or buboes on neck, armpit & groin
- No fever was noticed

Cause of Death continued
Most died within 3 days of the appearance of buboes.

So many died at once, there was not enough time to properly bury one by one.
Forced to dig massive trenches where they buried by the hundreds.

How the Plague moved through Europe between
1346 - 1353

Cause of Death:
The Conclusion

Through research and a DNA analysis, scientist's were able to extract DNA from the remains of the teeth our skull had left.

Within this Odontic discovery, the conclusion was made that there was a variant of Yersinia Pestis found. This discovery indicates that these people died of
The Black Plague

Extracting DNA from teeth is a process called Odontology.
Popowich, Daniel, (2013) It's in the Bones, Evidence of the Past

"Activity: Is the Skeleton Male or Female?" Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 2011. http://anthropology.si.edu/writteninbone/comic/activity/pdf/skeleton_male_or_female.pdf.
(accessed March 30, 2015)
Popowich, Daniel. (2013).
"It's in the Bones, Evidence of the Past"

"Activity: Is the Skeleton Male or Female?"
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 2011. http://anthropology.si.edu/writteninbone/comic/activity/pdf/skeleton_male_or_female.pdf
(accessed March 30, 2015)

Paterlini, Fabrizio. "
La polvere e l'incanto"

(background music)

Wide sciatic notch
Pinched ischiopubic
More concave, angled
subpubic concavity
Subpubic concavity has straighter edge
More narrow
sciatic notch
Much thicker
ischiopubic ramus
Picture taken at mass burial site in Smithfield, England
Nasal Sill
Nasal Spine
Malar Tubercule
The Black Death, 1348. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/plague.htm
References continued
The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever. http://www.historytoday.com/ole-j-benedictow/black-death-greatest-catastrophe-ever
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