Anthropology - Other

An Introduction to Forensic Anthropology



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Bones have the ability to tell a story that is read through the science of FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY which is the study of skeletal remains. In the beginning it is used to decide if the bones in question are human. Gender, age, physical stature and racial affiliation can all be determined through forensic anthropology. It can also give an estimated time and cause of death; illness and wounds leave evidence is bones as well. All of these come together to identify whom the remaining bones belonged to in life.

Archaeological methods are used to carefully remove buried bones and other items from the site of burial. Items around the bones can also tell a story for the forensic anthropologist; these include the soil itself, insects, and seeds in the area. Plant remains, pollen, bones and teeth are all elements that are examined under forensic archaeology. Each one is removed from the ground every carefully to avoid further damage to the remains that are being removed.

Osteology is the studying of the actual bones and is the most useful of the methods. The skull although not always available or too deteriorated is the most revealing as it can be used to reveal all of the specifics of the person's remains. All bones have to be measured with either metric or non-metric traits that take into account the difference in people themselves.

Metric measures the differences in the bones; upper-arm bone length is different from one person to another. Two people of the same high and similar build can have bones of different lengths. Non-metric is the difference in the person's bones that can not actually be measured; some people's bones fuse differently from those of other people. Determining if a skeleton is human is done by the shape, size and density of the bones.

Studying the teeth is Dentition and is used for several parts of forensic anthropology and combines with osteology to get the age, sex and diet of a person. The number of teeth alone can tell if the bones belonged to an adult or a child. There are thirty-two teeth in an adult human while children only have twenty.

When the pollen and remains of plants from the past are studied it is known as Ethnobotany. Studying these things works in conjunction with forensic anthropology to find out how much time has passed since death. The size of the plants, the roots and the amount of decay from plants all contribute to the story of the bones.

Sources:
http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/biology/forensics/

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