David Holding, my colleague at Scott Martin Productions, is now blogging on subjects related to his non-fiction publications – see them here.
The role a Forensic Anthropologist plays in a death investigation is crucial to the field of forensic science as a whole. Anthropologists understand the forms and variations of various forms of skeletal properties, and apply their knowledge to their work in order to obtain reasonable conclusions. The main focus of their work is to process crime scenes, examine and process remains, develop a biological profile, compile appropriate documentation and testify in court. The anthropologist must be able to differentiate between human and nonhuman remains. The Forensic Anthropologist offers unknown deceased individuals an identity by developing a biological profile to portray their physical characteristics. There are various contributing factors that help to establish an individual’s age, sex and stature. To determine the age of the remains, the anthropologist must apply their knowledge of skeletal and dental development to their conclusions. Ossification centres in bones help to determine age in individuals. Ascertaining age also depends on the dental development of the subject. Odontological identification of the individual based on dental records assist in establishing the age range of the individual. The determination of biological sex of a subject can be determined by examining the difference between male and female pelvises, primarily due to the specific differences in size and shape..
Establishing the living stature of a subject, the most reliable results are obtained from many formulae that can be used. These are based on the bone lengths of the lower limbs. The Forensic Anthropologist contributes to the outcome of a death investigation by providing law enforcement agencies with answers and conclusions, through their knowledge of the human skeleton. The evidence that a Forensic Anthropologist presents to a coroner or medical examiner is crucial in understanding the cause of death in an investigation based on an examination of the skeletal remains.
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