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Forensic Anthropology

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic Anthropology"— Presentation transcript:

1 Forensic Anthropology

2 What Questions Can Forensic Anthropology Answer?
What is the race of the individual? What is the sex of the individual? What is the age of the individual? What is the stature of the individual? What pathologies did the individual have? What traumas did the individual have? What individual traits did the individual have?

3 Identity of Decomposed or Skeletal Remains
Are the remains human or animal? (butchers remains and skeletal remains of dead pets etc. may be found in unlikely places) Are they really bones? (wood, stones) Are they human? How many bodies? How long dead? - recent or ancient (e.g. construction or digging at an old burial site) Cause of death?

4 How does this Work? Forensic anthropologists use regression equations to determine sex, age, stature, and race of skeletal remains. Regression equations are mathematical equations developed from studies of bones of individuals of known sex, age, race, and stature, and are used to predict such things of even fragmentary skeletal remains."

5 Sex Estimation The sex of an individual is determined, when soft tissue is not present, by a number of skeletal indicators. The more indicators used to determine sex, the more accurate the results. A forensic anthropologist is analytically limited by the bones present and the condition of the bones.

6 Bones of men are larger and more robust than bones of women.
In general, the muscles in a man are stronger and more developed than in a woman. Bones of men are larger and more robust than bones of women. Some bones display specific features which can be used to help determination of the sex of the skeleton. The best indicators are the: Skull Pelvis Head of the Femur

7 Sex Estimation – Adult Usually related to size in adult long bones
Male bones: usually larger, longer in a single population – be cautious if different populations are involved Maximum diameter of head of humerus and head of femur may be used (Bass). Much more difficult to estimate sex in children’s skeletons.

8 Sex Estimation: Skull Good area for sex determination
Generalization: male skull more robust, muscle-marked than female: ABSOLUTE DIFFERENCES SELDOM EXIST (Bass) Sex estimation: face, mandible, vault

9 Sex Estimation: Face 1. Supraorbital (Brow) ridges: more prominent in males 2. Superior orbital margin: sharper in females 3. Palate: larger in males 4. Teeth: larger in males (Bass) 5. Mastoid process: more prominent and rugged in males. 6. Orbit (Eye socket): Rounder in females, more rectangular in males 7. Chin: more pronounced in males and larger jaws.




13 Pelvis Women give birth. For this reason, the pelvis of a woman is larger than the pelvis of a man. The pelvis of a woman is wide and circular whereas the pelvis of a man is narrow and heart-shaped. Two angles, the sub-pubic angle and the sciatic notch, cause the differences in the shape of the pelvis. In women, the sub-pubic angle and sciatic notch are wide. In men, the sub-pubic angle and sciatic notch are narrow.

14 Male Pelvis Subpubic Notch

15 Female Pelvis Subpubic Notch

16 Pubis Bone Traits Related to Sex
Female Male Ventral arc: a roughened projection of bone visible on the anterior surface of the pubis bone Present Absent Pubis body width (mm) 40 25-30 Subpubic angle (degrees) angle made by the inferior borders of the articulated pubis bone >90 <90



19 Head of the Femur In men, the diameter of the head of the femur is larger than 51 mm. In women, the diameter of the head of the femur is less than 45 mm.

20 Determining Ages of Skeletons
Bone growth stops at about 20 yrs. of age in humans. Adult bone continuously adapts to prevailing stresses by appropriate deposition and resorption. Deposition and resorption are under hormonal control - integrated with regulation of blood calcium levels.

21 Skeletal Age Skeletal age is the estimated age at which a person died. Skeletal age can be determined by looking at the following: sutures of the skull teeth ribs vertebrae growth areas of the long bones: epiphyses

22 Sutures of the Skull When a baby is born, the skull is still growing.
To accommodate this growth, the different bones of the skull are separate. By the age of 7, all the different bones have finished growing and the fontanelles have disappeared.

23 Skull Sutures

24 The Teeth The teeth are arranged in upper and lower arches. Those of the upper are called maxillary; those of the lower are mandibular.

25 There are four types of teeth with very different shapes:
Incisors (2) Canines (1) Premolars (bicuspids) (2) Molars (2-3) Individual teeth are quite distinct, even when lost from a jaw.

26 Dental Formula (from the midline)
Primary (deciduous) teeth. incisors, two upper and two lower; canines, one upper and one lower; molars two upper and two lower equals ten per side. Permanent teeth. premolars, two upper and two lower; molars, three upper and three lower.

27 Teeth The first teeth to appear are the incisors, which are followed by canines and molars. When chewing food, teeth grind down. Comparing different teeth gives an idea of how long the teeth have been used. Eventually teeth may be lost, due to caries or attrition.

28 X-Rays Are Used to Date Skulls
This is the side view of the dentition of a six year old boy. There is still some variation from person to person in the order in which the teeth erupt.

29 Baby Teeth Permanent Teeth
Incisors: months Incisors: years Canines: 2 years Canines: years Premolar 1: none Premolar 1: years Premolar 2: none Premolar 2: 11 years Molar 1: 3 years Molar 1: years Molar 2: 3 years Molar 2: years Molar 3: none Molar 3: years

30 Teeth with 6 year molars Baby Teeth Teeth with 12 year Molars Teeth with Wisdom Teeth

31 Dental Disease - Cavities, Abscesses, and Attrition

32 Ribs Because of breathing, the front part of the ribs is constantly moving. As a person gets older, the front part of the ribs begin to change and form bony spikes.

33 Vertebrae As a person gets older, bony spikes can also start growing on the vertebrae. This starts at approximately 40 years of age.

34 Growth areas of the long bones (epiphysis)
From birth to ±25 years of age, a person grows at a relatively constant rate. Growth takes place at the ends of the long bones. At a certain age, growth is completed and this can also be seen on the bone.

35 Epiphyseal Fusion The pattern of fusion of bone ends (epiphysis) to bone shaft (metaphysis) in each bone indicates age. Charts & tables are used. The upper arm stops growing at the shoulder at approximately age 20 and at the elbow at approximately age 14.5. The upper leg stops growing at the hip at approximately age 17.5 and at the knee at approximately age 18.


37 Determining Ages of Skeletons
Cranial suture fusion is less reliable. Pubic symphysis changes slightly with age. Arthritic changes and osteoporosis give further clues.


39 Arthritic changes and osteoporosis give further clues to the ages of skeletons.

40 Individual Characteristics
Fractures Head Injuries

41 Individual Characteristics
Bone disease (Paget's disease, tumors) Previous injury to bone (fracture callus, prosthesis, metallic fragments). Comparison of trabecular pattern of bone. Pattern of skull's frontal air sinuses. Outline is unique and comparisons with clinical X-rays are useful.

42 Height An intact corpse can be measured, but a disarticulated or incomplete skeleton has to be pieced together. Stature 3.26 x (humerus) = stature +/-4.43cm 3.42 x (radius) = stature +/-4.30 3.26 x (ulna) = stature +/-4.42 (there will be 2 calculations for stature, based on the upper and lower standard of error)

43 Race or Ethnic Group Determination
The skull is the only reliable bone. It is not possible to narrow down the identification to race: Caucasian (all whites) Negroid (all blacks - African, African Americans and West Indians) Mongoloid (Chinese, Japanese, American Indians)

44 In Caucasians: Nasal openings are narrow. Face is flatter

45 In Mongoloids “Shovel-shaped" concave upper incisor teeth. Cheekbones (Zygomatic arches): are wider and more prominent. Greater width between eyes.

46 In Negroids: Face projects forward Nasal opening is wider

47 Minimum Number of Individuals
Used in mass graves- like in Yugoslavia or Afghanistan and mass disasters. Count all the bones and assign left vs. right. Use the highest number of a bone as the minimum number. Also, can assign bones to individual skeletons and then count them.


49 Dating of Human Skeletal Remains
Are they ancient or modern bones? (i.e. greater or less than 50 years). Rate of skeletonization is highly variable. In the tropics a body can be reduced to a skeleton in 3 weeks. Remarkable preservation of body is seen in acidic peaty soil Thus, environmental conditions have to be taken into account.

50 2400 year old bog body from Denmark

51 Age of Human Remains Naked eye appearance is unreliable:
Tags of soft tissue, periosteum, ligaments etc, indicate less than 5 years old. Soapy texture of surface indicates age less than a few decades. Light, crumbling bones are likely to be a century or more old.

52 Laboratory Tests Can Help
Immunological reaction between bone extract and anti human serum ceases within months of death. If blood pigments are present bones are usually less than 10 years old. Up to 20 amino acids may be identified in bones less than a century old. Fluorescence of freshly sawn bone surface under UV light diminishes after 100 years. New bones contain gms% nitrogen; 2.5 gms% indicates approximately 350 years. Radioactive carbon dating indicates which century.

53 Taphonomy Coined from the Greek words taphos, for "burial," and nomos, for "law." Forensic Taphonomy : The Postmortem Fate of Human Remains Skeletal trauma, decomposition, and dispersal of remains. Weathering, a taphonomic process, is very useful in determining the elapsed time since death.

54 Facial Reconstruction
Skull can be scanned into a computer and "fleshed" by computer reconstruction to give likely facial appearance in life. Unfortunately eye color, hair color and lips are independent of bony structure.

55 Pearl was a female who died in her early forties approximately three hundred years ago.
She was Caucasian, of European ancestry and stood about 5'1". Her dental health was extremely poor and she had lost 63 per cent of her teeth prior to death. She had no teeth on either side of her jaw. This was most important as the loss of those teeth would evidence themselves in the final reconstruction as sunken cheeks. Of her remaining teeth, the condition was poor and she had several abscesses. During her lifetime, there are indicators that she also suffered from acute infections, rickets, sinusities, an upper respiratory infection, arthritis, and gout. Whew--all this in an era when aspirin didn't exist! On the other hand, it was determined that she was very muscular, as the ridges on her long bones were very developed.


57 The artist utilizes proper tissue depth data determined by race, gender, and age.
Artificial eyes are placed in the skull’s eye sockets, centered and at the proper depth. The tissue markers are glued directly onto the skull. Clay will be systematically applied directly on the skull, following the skull's contours; paying strict attention to the applied tissue markers.

58 Various measurements are made, and logged, to determine nose thickness/length, mouth thickness/width, and eye placement. Information such as geographic location of where the deceased lived, his or her lifestyle, and the various information provided to the artist by the Forensic Anthropologist and other professionals, is heavily relied upon when completing the reconstruction.

59 This woman had missing side teeth and a small jaw.
Hair is added by applying clay or a wig. Various items (glasses, clothing, hats) may be applied to better accentuate the features of the individual. This method can be very successful.

60 Cause of Death Anthropologists can distinguish between marks from the result of a weapon attack and those resulting from the gnawing and biting of bones by scavenging animals. They can also determine the exact kind of weapon and animal, and they can tell if a wound is old or if it occurred at death. They can be called upon to testify as to the type of weapon used (saw vs. knife).

61 Lizzie Bordon’s Father’s skull: Ax Whacked.

62 Two outstanding cases of the use of forensic anthropology to successfully solve unsolved mysteries are the cases of Francisco Pizarro.

63 Pizarro conquered the Incas.
Pizarro was hated by the Peruvians because he was a brutal ruler. On June 26, 1541 (at age 66), he was stabbed to death by a crowd of angry subjects and in view of many witnesses (Dickerson 1993). His brutal death is not questioned due to the well documentation at the time. It was his remains that were questioned.

64 In the 1890's, Peruvian officials decided to put Pizarro's remains on exhibit. "They asked officials at the Cathedral of the Plaza de Aramis in Lima for Pizarro's body and were directed to a mummy, which they put on view." (Dickerson 1993) In 1978 workers discovered a secret niche that had been walled over in the cathedral, and on a shelf in the niche was a box with a skull and an inscription that identified it as the head of Pizarro. Another box was found containing the bones of several unidentified individuals (Dickerson 1993).

65 The Question was, "Who was the real Pizarro?"
An investigation of the bones in the second box led to the discovery that the postcranial bones matched the skull in the first box. These bones and the skull were then placed together and prepared for study to determine if they had marks consistent with sword or knife wounds.

66 Who’s the Mummy? Just by using visual observation, researchers could tell that the skeleton had been stabbed many times, dying in the same way as Pizarro was reported to have died. The location of the wounds showed that the victim had been stabbed "about the head and body and apparently had tried to shield himself with his arm, a reaction common in stabbing deaths." (Dickerson 1993) On the other hand, the mummy had no such injuries at all (Dickerson 1993).

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