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FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY ANTH-430 T. Wingate Todd Cleveland Physician Todd started what has become known as the Hamann-Todd collection of human skeletal remains (as well ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • ANTH-430

What will you get out of this course?
  • Knowledge of the Human Skeleton
  • Understanding of the Process of Decomposition
  • Understand the Processes of Taphonomy
  • Knowledge of Proper retrieval methods
  • Understand the Role the Forensic Anthropologist
    plays in the Legal Process

  • Course evaluation is based on the following
  • Osteological quiz 10
  • Taphonomy Report 10
  • Crime Scene Report 10
  • Trauma Assignment 10
  • Decay Assignment 15
  • Journal of decay 15
  • Participation 5
  • Final Examination 25

Osteological Quiz
  • This quiz will cover the entire human skeleton.
    The quiz will be set up as a bell-ringer for
    students to identify and describe bones and bone

Taphonomy Report
  • We will make a tour of the Cayo district in order
    for students to identify different local
    environments and the taphonomic forces that could
    affect a body if deposited in one of these
  • Students are to write this assignment from the
    view of a criminal.
  • If you had a body you wanted to get rid of where
    would you put it?
  • Students will describe each environment visited
    and discuss the taphonomic forces that could be
    at play on a body
  • look at the implications for the recovery and
    identification of the remains, and the factors
    that could lead to dispersal and/or destruction
    prior to recovery.
  • Try to show how you could get away with murder.

Crime Scene Recovery
  • A mock crime scene will be set up.
  • Students will be expected to properly establish
    the crime scene and recover the human skeletal
  • A Field Report based on the findings will then be

Decomposition Assignment
  • From the assessment of our pig experiment you
    will discuss the rates of decomposition of a
    human body in a tropical country.
  • It is expected that you will need to refer to
    outside sources on discussions on rates of
    decomposition in the tropics.
  • This should be roughly 3-5 pages in length.

Journal of Decay
  • A journal will be kept as an assessment of decay.
  • Assessments will made throughout the day three
    to four times when possible
  • We will then ascertain how long it takes for a
    body to decompose in Belize.
  • Photos, drawings, and notes should be made of the
    observations seen each day.

What is Forensic Anthropology?
  • anthropology the study of
  • humans
  • forensic argument to a court during a trial.

What is Forensic Anthrology?
  • Applied Anthropology Biological Anthropology
  • Application of
  • Human Osteology
  • - Archaeological Field Method
  • to the LEGAL process
  • These methods aid law
  • enforcement in the collection
  • analysis of the human
  • remains to establish the
  • biological profile cause or death

Detail from Albinus, 1747
Forensic anthropologists recover analyze
human remains for the police coroners.
  • The fields of study in medicine jurisprudence
    that deal with legal issues criminal civil
  • Specialists have evolved to focus on the specific
    aspects of their disciplines most useful to the
  • A Forensic Scientist comes from a scientific
    discipline, such as Chemistry, Biology,
    Medicine, Anthropology

WHY Forensic Anthropology?
  • A Biological Anthropologist, usually
    specializing in Osteology/Bioarchaeology can be a
    Forensic Anthropologist when asked to assist in a
    legal investigation involving the decomposed or
    skeletonized human remains when the identity of
    the individual(s) is unknown or the cause/manner
    of death unknown.

Individual skeletal remains
when decomposition of the body inhibits an
identification of the individual.
Jon Jefferson
When the remains still have flesh, but it is
difficult to determine age or trauma that may
have impacted the skeleton
BBC In pictures Burma aid effort
When the remains have been cremated
When there is a mass disaster (911, plane crash)
Members of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
and local villagers work together excavating a
crash site in Dong Hoi, Vietnam, July 16, 2006. A
15-member JPAC team including a forensic
anthropologist, . will be working in Vietnam for
a month attempting to recover the remains of
pilots that crashed in the area during the
Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt.
Derrick C. Goode)
Or when there are International Human Rights
Cases (East Timor, Guatemala, Argentina, Rwanda)
El Salvador, 1992.An Argentine forensic
anthropology team worker helps excavate the site
of the El Mozote massacre, where a Salvadoran
army battalion killed about 800 villagers, almost
half of them children. Credit Daniel Muzio
Historic Cases
  • Francisco Pizarro
  • The Romanovs
  • The Ice Man

  • autopsies
  • make the final determination of cause or manner
    of death (this is the job of the
    pathologist,coroner, or medical examiner)
  • make final positive identifications on the basis
    of dental or medical x-rays (a forensic
    odontologist or radiologist is best trained to do

  • Are the remains human?Depending on the level of
    decomposition, animal remains are often mistaken
    for human remains. Common techniques employed are
    skeletal morphology, radiography, and histology.
  • When did the individual die?
  • Pinpointing time of death is critical evidence
    for crime scene investigators. Methods vary
    depending on whether the remains are prehistoric,
    historic, or recent. For recent remains,
    techniques vary based on the condition of the
    remains fresh, decomposed, mummified, or
    skeletalized. Procedures include analysis using
    chemical tests, entomology, and investigation of
    context / associated artifacts.
  • Who is the individual?
  • Remains are often delivered with no idea as to
    their identity. Discovery of sex, age, ancestry,
    height, and individuating characteristics are
    used to help determine identity. 
  • What was the manner of death?
  • Detailed investigation as to the exact cause of
    death often answers many other questions. For
    decomposed remains, more common methods involve
    the analysis of skeletal trauma and bone
  • What happened to the individual after death?
  • Remains can be altered by humans attempting to
    destroy evidence, animals, insects and many other

  • The identification of the dead is most
  • The first step in a homicide investigation is to
    identify the victim. 
  • This concerns relatives of the deceased
    judicial authorities who need to know about
    someones death to process wills, estate
    settlements, and so forth. 

Detail from Cheselden, 1741
Who are the Unidentified?
  • Any unidentified body/remains as a result of
  • Homicide
  • Accident in remote area
  • Suicide
  • Genocide
  • Mass disaster
  • MIA war dead

Why is Identification Important?
  • Locate a missing person
  • Identify the cause manner of death
  • Identify the perpetrator, if a homicide
  • Prosecute the murderer in a court of law

Not Just For Legal Matters
  • Those who have disappeared leave behind loved
    ones wondering what happened Still alive?
    Dead? Where? Why?
  • There is a sense of relief closure for families
    when the bodies of loved ones are found
  • As well as empowerment through the process of
    funeral rights

The Unidentified
A poster encourages relatives of Srebrenica
massacre victims to give a blood sample at the
International Commission on Missing Persons'
(ICMP) Podrinje Identification Project Center
2005, in Bosnia Herzegovina. (Photo by Marco Di
Lauro/Getty Images)
Unidentified remains of 7 Georgian soldiers
killed in the S. Ossetian conflict zone. Tbilisi,
  • Forensic Anthropology did not start out as a
    discipline, but rather the application of
    Anthropological theory methods to the legal
  • It is not a discipline that one can graduate
    from, however, there has been much research in
    developing techniques and acquiring information
    to make the tasks more precise, informative and

Father of Forensic Anthropology
  • Thomas Dwight (Harvard)-
  • Wrote articles essays (from 1878) of the
    subject of identification from the human skeleton
  • Also gave lectures on the subject
  • He researched methods for
  • determining age , height sex from the sternum
  • Estimating stature without the long bones
  • Determining age at death from the suture closures
  • estimating sex from the long bone joints

Formative Period Early 1800s-1938
  • In the Beginnings
  • First date for the use of skeletal information in
    a court of law
  • 1850 Webster/Parkman Trial
  • A Harvard Chemistry Professor was charged with
    killing Dr. Parkman, a missing physician
  • 2 Harvard anatomists, Oliver Holmes Jeffries
    Wyman, were called in to examine the remains
    believed to be those of Dr. Parkman found in
    Websters residence
  • The 2 testified the remains were indeed those of
    Dr. Parkman and Webster was hanged

Leutgert Case of 1897 - Chicago
  • Adolph Leutgert was accused of killing his wife,
    then placing her body in a vat of potash in his
    sausage factory
  • The body dissolved leaving behind a greasy jelly,
    four small pieces of bone and Mrs. Leutgerts
    rings in the sausage-rendering vat
  • Anthropologist George Dorsey was called upon to
    identify the bones.
  • Dorsey was able to determine that the fragments
    were indeed human (and not pig) and were
    fragments of a hand, foot rib
  • This evidence was added to other evidence the
    prosecution had and resulted in a murder
    conviction of Leutgert

Human Identification
  • Wilder Wentworth published a book (1932) on the
    aspect of human identification looking at
    dermatoglyphics the reproduction of the face
    from the skull
  • This method is still used by forensic
    anthropologists today
  • Paul Stevenson wrote articles (1920-50) on human
    skeletal identification,
  • One on determining age from the epiphyseal union
    of the long bones
  • Another on the stature of Chinese from long bone
  • The underlying theory of these methods is still
    used today

  • Several anthropologists worked on forensic cases
    involving human skeletal identification, however
    nothing was ever published (1920-40s)
  • Include
  • Alex Hrdlicka of the Smithsonian
  • Earnest Hooton, Anthropology Professor at Harvard

T. Wingate Todd
  • Cleveland Physician Todd started what has become
    known as the Hamann-Todd collection of human
    skeletal remains (as well as non-human primate
  • Todd acquired about 2600 persons from 1912-1938
  • What is so important of this collection is that
    the demographics of most of the individuals is
    know allowing for the development of standards
    for determining ancestry, sex, age stature

Robert Terry Mildred Trotter
  • In St. Louis, between 1914-1965 Terry Trotter
    (Terrys successor) collected 1636 human
    skeletons from dissecting cadavers
  • For most of these cadavers the ancestry, age, sex
    stature was known
  • The Terry Collection is housed in the
    Smithsonian and is still used for human skeletal

End of the Formative Period
  • Ruxton murder case, Great Britian, 1930s
  • Murder of 2 women Isabella Van Ess Mary
    Rogerson, Mrs. Van Esss personal maid
  • Mrs. Van Esss husband was physician Buck Ruston
  • The two women disappeared the same time foul
    odors were described coming from the Ruxton
  • The decomposed, dismembered, mutilated bodies of
    2 persons were found from a gully in Scotland
  • The 2 principal investigators, Glaister Brash
    (not anthropologists), reassembled the body parts
    placed them in positions similar to those of
    photographs of the 2 women when alive.
  • The comparison of the antemortem postmortem
    images showed the similarity between the bodies
    the photographs of the 2 women.
  • This was added to other evidence and Dr. Ruxton
    was found guilty of the 2 murders. He was hanged
    in 1936

Consolidation Period 1939-1971
  • Wilton M. Krogman published, in 1939
  • Guide to Identification of Human Skeletal
  • Was written fro the FBI summarized all that was
    known about the human skeleton
  • In 1962 he expanded this work into
  • The Human Skeleton in Forensic Medicine (2nd ed
    in 1986 with co-author M.Y. Iscan)
  • This was the 1st work to be devoted to the
    applicatin of the study of human bone to forensics

US War Dead During 1940s 50s
  • WW II CILHI Central Identification Lab,
    Hawaii was created in order to deal with the
    bodies of killed servicemen in the Pacific
  • Charles E. Snow was the 1st Director, then
    Mildred Trotter took over
  • Trotter worked on improving ways of determining
    stature from long bone length using the
    servicemen skeletons records of their heights
  • She established formulas that are still used
    today for determining stature

Korean War, 1950s
  • U.S. Army established an identification lab in
    Japan in efforts to identify killed servicemen.
  • T. Dale Stewart was the director
  • Under Stewart, McKern undertook a study of
    determining age from aspects of the servicemen
  • They published, 1957
  • Skeletal Age Changes in Young American Males
  • This is still used today

T. Dale Stewart
  • Worked at the Smithsonian Institute
  • In 1970 he edited
  • Personal Identification in Mass Disasters
  • In 1979 he wrote
  • Essentials of Forensic Anthropology
  • He also contributed to the development of the
    discipline by organizing seminars on skeletal
  • In 1971 William Bass wrote
  • Human Osteology A Laboratory Field Manual

William M. Bass
  • In 1971 wrote
  • Human Osteology A Laboratory Field Manual

Modern Period 1972 - Present
  • This period began when Physical Anthropologist in
    the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS)
    met for the first time in 1972
  • This was organized by E.R. Kerley Cyde C. Snow
  • In 1977 the American Board of Forensic
    Anthropology (ABFA) was created
  • It was to ensure the competence of persons who
    practice forensic anthropology in the U.S.
  • The ABFA currently there are 62 Diplomates
    (board certified forensic anthropologists)
  • The Physical Anthropology section of the AAFS has
    about 300 members

Forensic Anthropology Data Bank
  • Located at University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Started in 1986 continues today collecting info
    on documented forensic cases so that new standard
    for determining demographic other
    characteristics from the human skeleton can be
    continuously updated
  • Why?
  • Because it was realized that contemporary people
    were deviating from the norms established by the
    Terry Todd collections, as well as the WWII
    Korean War dead.

Also at UT Knoxville
  • The Body Farm at the Anthropology Research
    Facility was established by Bill Bass in 1981
  • People donate their bodies to the farm (thus the
    demographics of the individuals are known)
  • Decomposition is studied
  • After the skeletons are removed and added to the
    Universitys skeletal collection
  • There are at least 2 other body farms in the
    US Texas State University, San Marcos Western
    Carolina University, Cullowhee, N. Carolina

  • Are the remains human?
  • Important to be able to tell the difference
    between human and non-human skeletal remains
  • Are the remains recent or historical/archaeologica
  • Important if the recovery scene is to be deemed a
    crime scene
  • Location recovery of the buried or surface
  • Important to be familiar with archaeological
    field methods
  • When did the person die is the location primary
    or secondary reburial?
  • Important to be familiar with rates of
    decomposition taphonomic processes are there
    any skeletal parts missing to indicate a
    secondary burial?

Objectives Continued
  • Is it a single individual or several?
  • Need to get an MNI (important to be at the
    recovery scene)
  • Biological Profile ancestry, age, sex, stature,
    physique handedness
  • Important in trying to find the identification of
    the individual(s)
  • Identification is it possible from the skeletal
    traits/anomalies to get a positive ID?
  • Look for signs of old disease injuries or
    surgeries, dental work, etc
  • If signs of trauma are present, may be able to
    find cause manner of death?
  • Manner natural accidental suicidal homicidal
  • Cause disease or heart attack drowning
    hanging gunshot wound
  • Look for signs of a struggle (broken bones) or
    gunshot wounds

  • A body is found that is only partially
    skeletonized. Under what circumstances would it
    be appropriate to call in a forensic
    anthropologist, and why?

  • Suppose that a forensic pathologist, in
    attendance when the body in above question is
    brought in, says that she could not perform an
    autopsy. Would it be appropriate now to call in
    a forensic anthropologist?

  • The skeleton of Jesse James has been examined on
    several occasions in the past to determine the
    aspects surrounding his death. Since little or
    no soft tissue ws left, a forensic anthropologist
    (Michael Finnegan) has done much of this
    analysis. Why do you suppose a forensic
    anthropologist, who is normally interested in
    bodies of medicolegal significance would get
    involved in such work?

  • In an attempt to determine whether they were
    victims of cannibalism, the skeletons of the
    companions of explorer Alferd Packer, the
    Colorado cannibal, were examined by a team of
    forensic anthropologists. Why was it more
    appropriate for this work to be done by these
    specialist as opposed to a forensic pathologist?

  • Detail from a copperplate engraving with etching
    byGovard Bidloo (anatomist), and Gérard de
    Lairesse (artist), Amsterdam, 1690. National
    Library of Medicine