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Getting to the Bare Bones: What do Forensic Anthropologists Actually do?

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danen appasamy

on 4 August 2016

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Transcript of Getting to the Bare Bones: What do Forensic Anthropologists Actually do?

Getting to the Bare Bones: What do Forensic Anthropologists Actually do?

Dr. Christopher J. Rogers
  • noun the study of humankind, especially the study of societies and cultures and human origins.
  — DERIVATIVES anthropological adjective anthropologist noun.
  — ORIGIN from Greek anthropos ‘human being’.
Anthropology in the Forensic Context
Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical or biological anthropology to the legal process. Physical or biological anthropologists who specialize in forensics primarily focus their studies on the human skeleton.
American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA)
Remit of the Forensic Anthropologist
To assess whether or not an item, element or fragment is human bone.
To assist in human skeletal fragment identification and assess which parts or elements (if any) of a skeleton are missing and to establish if there are bones from more than one individual.
Victim identification from the skeleton, for example by assessing age-at-death, sex, stature and ancestry.
To comment on any peri- or post-mortem modification of the bone including burning, dismemberment and scavenging.
To assess and describe, if present, any peri-mortem injury.
To reconstruct fragmented bones in order to better assess trauma.
To comment on post-mortem interval.
To assist a Disaster Victim Identification team in a case of a Mass Disaster/Mass Fatalities.
Determination of Medico-legal Significance.
Recognition of osseous and dental material
Identification of human versus non-human remains
Determination as to whether human remains are of medico-legal concern
Recognition of osseous/dental remains.
Rock, wood, shell….
Gross techniques
Microscopic techniques
Elemental techniques
Human vs Non-human
Gross techniques
Diagnostic of human
Diagnostic of non-human
Histological techniques
Protein Radio Immuno Assay (pRIA)
Medico-legal Significance
Archaeological, disturbed cemeteries, anatomical collections, ceremonial / trophy remains
Gross techniques
Human provenancing
Minimum Number of Individuals: MNI
Look for duplicate skeletal elements
Separate adult from sub adult
Problem with commingling with animals
Use of DNA is expensive and time consuming
Ancestry Determination
Caucasoid: White European, Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian subcontinent
Negroid: Sub-Saharan Africa
Mongoloid: Cental and East Asian, Native American, Inuit
Australoid: Australian Aborigine, Pacific Islanders
Methods for Ancestry Determination
Cranial analysis
Dental analysis
Mandibular analysis
Femoral analysis
Determination of Ancestry
Determination of Sex: Pelvis
To record and aid the recovery of human remains at a scene.
To advise on other methods of identification available to the investigators (e.g. DNA, forensic odontology, radiographic comparison of skeletal elements, comparison of medical implants vs. ante-mortem medical records).
To write statements and reports and attend court to give evidence as an expert witness.

Some FA will be competent to advise on facial reconstruction or approximation, stable isotope analysis, post-mortem interval dating, toxicology
Some FA will be practiced in examining radiographs and assessing age on living individuals to determine their age for legal purposes.
Some FA will be qualified to undertake facial reconstruction/approximation.
Determination of Sex: Skull
Age at Death
Pubic Symphysis
Auricular Surface
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Brooks S.T., Suchey J.M. (1990) Skeletal age determination based on the os pubis: a comparison of the Ascaadi-Nemeskeri and Suchey-Brooks methods. Human evolution. 5: 227-238
Dolinak D., Matshes E., Lew E (2005) Forensic Pathology, principles and practice. London. Elsevier academic press.
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Iscan M.Y., Loth S.R., Wright R.K. (1985) Age estimation from the rib by phase analysis: white females. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 30: 853 – 863.
Simmons T, Haglund W. D. (2005) Anthropology in a forensic context, In: Hunter J, Cox M (eds) Forensic Archaeology; advances in theory and practice. Forensic science series. London. Routledge.159 -176.
Todd T.W. (1920) Age changes in the pubic bone. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 33:285-334.
Kimmerle ER., Baraybar JP. (2008) Skeletal Trauma, identification of injuries resulting from human rights abuse and armed conflict. Boca Raton. CRC press.
Reichs K.J. ed (1998) Forensic osteology; advances in the identification of human remains. 2nd edition. Charles C Thomas. Springfield Illinois.
Museum of London Archaeology Osteology.
Meindl RS, Lovejoy CO (1985) Ectocranial suture closure: A revised method for the determination of skeletal age at death based on the laterial-anterior sutures. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 68:57-66.
Phenice TW (1969) A newly developed visual method of sexing the os pubis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 30: 297-302.
The American Board of Forensic Anthropology, http://www.theabfa.org/
Buikstra J. E., and D. H. Ubelaker (1994) Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains. Research Series, no. 44. Arkansas Archaeological Survey, Fayetteville.
Wilkinson C. and MacKinnon G. (2009) ‘Forensic anthropology guidelines’. British Association of Forensic Anthropology unpublished document.
Ainscough L, Márquez-Grant N (2011) Code of practice and performance standards for forensic anthropologist in the UK. British Association of Forensic Anthropology unpublished document.
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