Forensic Anthropology as a Job:


This website talks about the job of an anthropologist, and how the identify the bones in different ways.
First, it explains how the teeth can be used to tell how old the person was. Then it shows a few ways to tell if they were male or female, and it also discusses how to find the height.

(Melinda - February 15)

The Skull:

Determination of Sex :

The following are used to determine if a skull is male or female:

General size
Supraorbital margin
Mastoid process
Occipital bone
Muscle lines and protuberance marked
Muscle lines not marked
Gonial Angle
Wide angle
Larger, broader, tends to be U-shaped
Small, tends to be a parabola
Occipital condyles
Determination of sex
(Melanie- February 16, 2009)

Main Bones in the Skull:

Dr. Fabian goes over the skull and some of the major bones that make up the skull.

The different bones of the skull:


This image accurately depicts the anatomy of the skull from lateral (side) and anterior (front) views. Labeled bones include the frontal bone, temporal bone, orbit, nasal bone, maxilla, mandible, zygomatic bone, zygomatic arch, mandibular condyle, external acoustic meatus, mastoid process, occipital bone and parietal bone.
anatomy of the skull
(Melanie- February 24)


How to determine age from teeth:

Teeth Are a good way to tell age.teeth that have or have not grown reveal the age of the skeleton, as young children will have not lost their baby teeth and around the age of 18, wisdom teeth first appear. In the skull during the teenage years, bones become thicker and larger and fuse together in a process known as ossification . Ossification occurs in over 800 points around the body and is the best guide to revealing the age of a child's skeleton. An good example of ossification occurs in the arms, where at the age of six, the two bone plates form at either end of the outer forearm (radius). At the 17 in males and 20 in females, the lower bone plate and the radius fuse together and soon after, the upper bone plate and radius fuse together. The bone in the body that finishes growing last is the collarbone, which stops it's growth around 30 years. In the bones of the elderly, degeneration begins to occur. Anthropologists will look for tiny spikes that start to appear on the edges of the vertebrae. Other ways to tell age is by looking for the wearing of teeth due to age as well as joints that show signs of arthritis. All of the bones in the body will deteriorate with age.

Forensic Odontologists:

[[image:/crime/forensic_scientists/odontologist/images/blank.gif width="1" height="5"]]
Dental records are often one of the most effective methods of identifying a body. As with fingerprints, everyone’s teeth are different. The shape, size, alignment, chips, cracks and fillings are all recorded in minute detail as the dentist checks our teeth.
Odontologists request these records and check them against any bite-marks found at the crime scene, or compare them to the teeth of an unidentified body. Odontologists have the corpse’s teeth x-rayed before comparing them with the dental records of missing persons.
The first time teeth were used to identify bodies was in 1849 after a fire at the opera in Vienna. [yourdiscovery.com]

(Melinda- March 8)

This website talks about the roles of forensic dentists. They are used to identify bodies by teeth and other dental structures. There's a lot of different techniques that they use to come to an identification, and many of them are explained in this article.
Forensic Dentists
(Melinda - February 22)

An example of teeth x-rays:

x-rays like these can be useful when it comes to identifying bodies.

The Vertebrae Column:

external image spine.jpgexternal image illu_vertebral_column.jpg

Lumbar vertebrae: There are 5 lumbar vertebrae. The lumbar vertebrae are situated between the thoracic vertebrae and the sacral vertebrae in the spinal column. The 5 lumbar vertebrae are represented by the symbols L1 through L5.

Thoracic Vertebrae (T1 – T12)
The thoracic vertebrae increase in size from T1 through T12. They are characterized by small pedicles, long spinous processes, and relatively large intervertebral foramen (neural passageways), which result in less incidence of nerve compression. The rib cage is joined to the thoracic vertebrae. At T11 and T12, the ribs do not attach and are so are called "floating ribs." The thoracic spine's range of motion is limited due to the many rib/vertebrae connections and the long spinous processes.

(Melinda- March 7)external image thoracic1-BB.jpg

Lumbar Vertebrae

external image moz-screenshot.png
external image comparison_single_lumbar_vertebrae_superior_view_%28normal_vs_osteoarthritic%29-www.boneclones.com.JPG
Lumbar Vertebrae
Melanie- 3/2/2010

The Shoulder Girdle, Arm and Hand:


The Shoulder:

external image 906001_com_gray326.png
This picture shows the articulation of the scapula, clavicle and humerus
(melanie 3/29/2010)

Anatomy of Clavicle- The Collar Bone

(Melinda-April 5)

Clavicle of right side viewed from below (left image) and from above(right image)
The clavicle is a long bone that connects trunk with upper limb. It is also known as collar bone. Its main function is support of the shoulder and transmittal of upper limb weight to the trunk through the sternum.
Clavicle canbe divided into a cylindrical part called the shaft, and two ends – medial and lateral.
The lateral end is also called acromial end and is flat from above downwards. It articulates with the acromion process of the scapula through a facet. The articular surface for the acromioclavicualr joint gives attachment to the joint capsule.
The medial end is called sternal end, is quadrangular in shape. This part articulates with the clavicular notch of the manubrium sterni to form the sternoclavicular joint. It also articulates with first costal cartilage via extension of the articular surface. The articular surface for the sternum gives attachement to the fibrous capsule all round, to the articular disc posterosuperiroly; and to the interclavicular ligament superiorly.
The shaft of the clavicle can be divided into the lateral one third and the medial two thirds.

The lateral one third of the shaft is flattened from above downwards. It has two borders, anterior which is concave anteriorly and posterior which is convex posteriorly. Between the two borders are two surfaces- the superior surface and inferior surface. While the superior surface is subcutaneous, the inferior surface has elevation called the conoid tubercle and a ridge called the trapezoid ridge.The anterior border gives origin to the deltoid muscle and the posterior border provides insertion to the trapezius muscle. The conoid tubercule and trapezoid ridge give attachment to the conoid and trapezoid parts of the coracoclavicular ligament.
The medial two thirds of the shaft of the clavicle is rounded and has four surfaces.
  • The anterior surface- It is convex forwards.
  • The posterior surface- It is thickened and smooth.
  • The superior surface- This surface iss rough in its medial part.
  • The inferior surface- It has a rough oval impression at the medial end. It harbors a longtitudinal groove called subclavian groove in its lateral half.
The anterior surface gives origin to the pectoralis major. The rough superior surface gives origin to the clavicular head of the sternocleidomastoid. The oval impression on the inferior surface gives attachment to the costoclavicular ligament. The subclavian groove gives insertion to the subclavius muscle and the margins of the groove give attachment to the clavipectoral fascia.
Determination of Side.
  • The lateral end is flat, and the medial end is large and quadrilateral.
  • The shaft is slightly curved, so that it is convex forwards in its medial 2/3, and concave forwards in its lateral 1/3.
  • The inferior surface is grooved longitudinally in its middle 1/3.
Gender Variations
Female clavicle is shorter, lighter, thinner, smoother, and less curved than in males . The lateral end of the clavicle is a little below the medial end in females whereas In males, the lateral end is either at the same level or slightly higher than the medial end.

The Hand:

bones of wrist and hand
bones of wrist and hand

Carpal bones* 1. scaphoid
  • 2. lunate
  • 3. triquetrum
  • 4. pisiform
  • 5. trapezium
  • 6. trapezoid
  • 7. capitate
  • 8. hamate
    • hook of hamate
Metacarpal bones* 9. I
  • 10. II
  • 11. III
  • 12. IV
  • 13. V
Phalanges* proximal 14
  • middle 15
  • distal 16

Bones of the Hand
(melanie- 3/22/2010)

Bones of the hand
(Melinda-April 5)


The Hand and Arm

(Stephanie March 9)


The Pelvis:

This shows the different bones that are included in the pelvis.

(melanie- 3/22/2010)

The Pelvis is a major bone used in sex determination. The pelvis is one of the most common bones to use if it is available. The subpubic angle is much wider in females than in males, typically more that 90 degrees and less than 90 degrees, respectively.

The greater sciatic notch is also wider in females, usually more than 68 degrees for females and less for males. The acetabulum, where the head of the femur meets the pubic bone, is typically larger and deeper in males than females. The sacrum is straighter in females and more curved in males. The space in the middle of the pelvic bone (the pelvic inlet) is larger in women to facilitate birthing.
The cranium, or skull, is another useful bone for sex determination. The chin of males tends to be more square and tends to come to a point in the middle on females. The frontal bone (forehead) of males tends to be slanted back and on females it tends to be more rounded. Males also tend to have brow ridges above the eyes more than females.
(Melinda- April 5)

Bones of the Lower Leg

external image I77_L.JPG

The effect of fire on bones and conclusions that can be understood from the evidence.
(Jonathan April 12)

After a bone has been in a fire some changes are very noticeable.
Some observable changes include:

1) change in bone color; 

2) change in the microscopic morphology of bone surfaces;

3) changes in the crystalline structure of bone; and 

4) bone shrinkage. 

Factors that influence how the bone changes include:

1) temperature at which bone is exposed, 

2) the duration of exposure, 

3) position of bone in relation to heat source, 

4) bone composition, and 

5) bone size .

As well as the relationship between temperature and bone produces different alterations in bone color. Studies indicate that the color of bone changes progressively with increased temperature, and that the color of thermally altered bone can provide a rough index of the temperature range that bone reached as a result of exposure to heat.

Stage 1 (20- <285
oC, 68- <545 F), neutral white/pale yellow; 

Stage 2 (285- <525
oC, 545- <977 F), red brown, very dark grey-brown, neutral dark grey, and reddish yellow; Grey is associated with the final stages of organic component combustion. Carbonized bone with a blackened or charred appearance is likely to have reached a temperature in the 250-550oC range.

Stage 3 (525- <645
oC, 977- <1193 F), neutral black dominant with some medium blue and reddish-yellow; Dark colors, particularly black, are related to the carbonization of collagen. At temperatures of 600oC and beyond the organic component is completely burned away resulting in calcination and a neutral white, chalky appearance.
Stage 4 (645- <940
oC, 1193- <1724 F), neutral white dominant with some light blue-grey and light grey; 

Stage 5 (940+
oC, 1724+ F), neutral white with minimal medium grey and reddish-yellow. 

external image FOOT.JPG

(Stephanie April 25)

Bone vs. Non-Bone (Human vs. Non Human)
· Microscopic Analysis
· X-ray spectroscopy
· Calcium/Phosphorous
· Ivory, Some Minerals

· 25-30% of cases brought to Anthropologists are non-human remains.
· Skeletal anatomy is similar across species but there are variations in size and morphology.
· Ability to distinguish human from non-human bone is a very important skill to Forensic Anthropologists.
· There are 2 characteristics that help us determine human vs. non-human:
o Maturity
§ One of the big points of possible confusion is mistaking animal bones for human infants.
§ Bones may be the same size (ie. Fox and Infant human humorous)
§ A fox bone will likely not have epiphisis, unless it is an infant fox, in that case size will not match.
§ This is also visible in bones that fuse with age such as the pelvic bones.
o Architecture
§ For the most part, all mammals have the same bones.
§ Presence of one of the bones not found in humans places the context of the find as animal.
§ The size of the bone can also indicate its potential human origins
(Jonathan 4/26)