Presentation on theme: "PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY Forensic Anthropology The Study of Human Remains."— Presentation transcript:
PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY Forensic Anthropology The Study of Human Remains
Forensic anthropology is the study of human remains. The primary goal of a forensic anthropologist is to determine the biological identity of an individual (i.e. sex, age-at-death, stature, and population affiliation). A forensic anthropologist may also be called upon to try and figure out what happened to an individual by examining his or her bones for evidence of trauma. They may also assist investigators in making a positive identification of an individual from his or her skeletal remains.
Kyra Stull - Forensic Anthropologist This is a short piece about Kyra Stull. Kyra is forensic anthropologist and runs the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State. She oversees a body farm.
Sex Determination: In general, males have bigger bones and larger areas of muscle attachment than females The pelvic bones are the best indicators of sex The skull, or cranium, is the second best indicator of sex Long bones may also be used for sex determination, although they are less accurate than the skull or pelvic bones As significant skeletal indicators of sex do not develop until puberty, it is very difficult to accurately determine the sex of children and young adolescents
Age Estimation: A number of methods are used to estimate the age-at- death of an individual from his or her skeletal remains The most common methods used to estimate the age of sub-adults (individuals under the age of 18) are bone formation and growth and dental formation and eruption Among the most common methods used to estimate the age of adults are cranial stature closure, changes to pelvic bones, and tooth wear It is easier to estimate the age-at-death of sub-adults because growth occurs in a known pattern Age estimation is not an exact science – age estimates are usually expressed in a range of years – eg. this individual was years of age at the time of his death
Stature Estimation: Stature or height is estimated by measuring the maximum length, in centimeters, of one or more of the six major long bones and plugging the number into a formula Separate formulae have been developed for different populations so it is important to know the population affiliation of the individual before doing the calculation
Population Affiliation: Physical anthropologists generally agree that there is no such thing as race (i.e. it has no biological basis); however forensic anthropologists are often called upon to determine the racial or population affiliation (also referred to as “ancestry”) of an individual from his or her skeletal remains This can be very difficult to do Determination of population affiliation from skeletal remains is usually done using the skull, and is based on the fact that different populations have different facial features
Positive Identification: A number of different methods are used to make a positive identification from skeletal remains The most common method is dental records Other methods include medical records, DNA, frontal sinus patterns, and photographic superimposition Facial reconstruction may be used to gather further clues in a case, but it is not used to make a positive identification
Articles giving more information about forensic anthropology and its methods: chnique/forensic-anthropology/ chnique/forensic-anthropology/
Learning from Skeletons Label the diagram of the skeleton from the following information You must summarize the content
Skull Look for the sagittal suture – the squiggly line that runs the length of the skull – and note whether is it's completely fused. If it is, the remains are likely to be of someone older than 35. Look for a second line at the front of the skull -- the coronal suture – which fully fuses by age 40. Teeth Study the teeth. If they're worn down it could be a sign of a poor diet. If they're well-maintained and/or have good dental work such as fillings, they were able to afford proper dental care— another clue as to the identity of your skeleton. Consult a scientist who specializes in teeth, known as an odontologist. They can determine how old a person was at death, what kind of health they were in and what kind of diet they had
Sternum Examine where the ribs join the sternum. This is also a good indicator of age. A forensic anthropologist will compare it against a database of standard markers and it is often more accurate as it is not a weight-bearing bone and remains unaffected by childbirth. DNA DNA samples may be taken from any existing hair tissue. As well as positively identifying someone, it may be useful in identifying a person's rethnicity or tribal origins
Pelvis Look for the pubic symphysis, which is the joint located in the pelvis. The older the person at death, the more pitted and craggy these bones will be. Forensic anthropologists will compare this against a database of standard markers to learn the age of the skeleton. Check if there are any soft marks on the cartilage which are left by childbirth as the bones soften to allow easier birth. To identify gender, assess the pelvis shape; men have a narrow, deep pelvis and women a wider, shallower pelvis, better-suited to carrying a baby. For a quick identification in the field, a forensic anthropologist will find the notch in the fan-shaped bone of the pelvis and stick their thumb into it. If there's room to wiggle the thumb, then it's a female; if it's a tight fit, it's the skeleton of a man
Wrist Examine the wrists, as bones often hold clues to the primary work of the decedent. Bony ridges form where the muscles were attached and pulled over the years. A forensic anthropologist might find a bony ridge on the wrist and decide the dead person may have been someone who used their hands for a living, such as a chef or seamstress Bugs When the skeleton is first discovered, take samples from around the remains including any bugs you come across. Insects such as blowflies have a very distinct lifecycle and often plant their eggs on newly deceased bodies. By identifying the stage of the lifecycle, a near-exact time of death can be established. This science is known as forensic entomology
Interview with a Forensic Anthropologist Forensic anthropologist and Smithsonian scientist Doug Owsley has been involved in cases ranging from Waco, Texas to Croatia. Recently, Owsley spoke with FRONTIERS about his work, his curiosity, and his love of learning.