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Forensic anthropology

Forensic anthropology

Overview
Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology
Physical anthropology
Biological anthropology is that branch of anthropology that studies the physical development of the human species. It plays an important part in paleoanthropology and in forensic anthropology...

 and human osteology
Osteology
Osteology is the scientific study of bones. A subdiscipline of anatomy, anthropology, and archeology, osteology is a detailed study of the structure of bones, skeletal elements, teeth, morphology, function, disease, pathology, the process of ossification , the resistance and hardness of bones , etc...

 in a legal setting, most often in criminal cases where the victim's remains are in the advanced stages of decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable. The adjective "Forensic" refers to the application of this subfield of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 to a court of law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.


Forensic anthropological techniques can be used to assist in the recovery of remains, assess age, sex
Sex
In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

, stature, ancestry, race
Race
Race is classification of humans into large and distinct populations or groups by factors such as heritable phenotypic characteristics or geographic ancestry, but also often influenced by and correlated with traits such as appearance, culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic status...

, and analyze trauma
Physical trauma
Trauma refers to "a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident." It can also be described as "a physical wound or injury, such as a fracture or blow." Major trauma can result in secondary complications such as circulatory shock, respiratory failure and death...

 and disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

.
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Encyclopedia
Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology
Physical anthropology
Biological anthropology is that branch of anthropology that studies the physical development of the human species. It plays an important part in paleoanthropology and in forensic anthropology...

 and human osteology
Osteology
Osteology is the scientific study of bones. A subdiscipline of anatomy, anthropology, and archeology, osteology is a detailed study of the structure of bones, skeletal elements, teeth, morphology, function, disease, pathology, the process of ossification , the resistance and hardness of bones , etc...

 in a legal setting, most often in criminal cases where the victim's remains are in the advanced stages of decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable. The adjective "Forensic" refers to the application of this subfield of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 to a court of law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

Overview



Forensic anthropological techniques can be used to assist in the recovery of remains, assess age, sex
Sex
In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

, stature, ancestry, race
Race
Race is classification of humans into large and distinct populations or groups by factors such as heritable phenotypic characteristics or geographic ancestry, but also often influenced by and correlated with traits such as appearance, culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic status...

, and analyze trauma
Physical trauma
Trauma refers to "a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident." It can also be described as "a physical wound or injury, such as a fracture or blow." Major trauma can result in secondary complications such as circulatory shock, respiratory failure and death...

 and disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

. Forensic anthropologists frequently work in conjunction with forensic pathologists
Forensic pathology
Forensic pathology is a branch of pathology concerned with determining the cause of death by examination of a corpse. The autopsy is performed by the pathologist at the request of a coroner or medical examiner usually during the investigation of criminal law cases and civil law cases in some...

, odontologists, and homicide
Homicide
Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

 investigator
Detective
A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

s to identify a decedent, discover evidence of trauma, and determine the postmortem interval. Though they typically lack the legal authority to declare the official cause of death
Cause of Death
Cause of Death is a 1990 album by American death metal band Obituary. Cause of Death is considered a classic album in the history of death metal. The artwork was done by artist Michael Whelan...

, which is the job of forensic pathologists, their opinions are taken into consideration by the medical examiner
Coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...

. They may also testify in court as expert witness
Expert witness
An expert witness, professional witness or judicial expert is a witness, who by virtue of education, training, skill, or experience, is believed to have expertise and specialised knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially and legally...

es. Data from some infrequently used techniques, such as forensic facial reconstruction
Forensic facial reconstruction
Forensic facial reconstruction is the process of recreating the face of an individual from their skeletal remains through an amalgamation of artistry, forensic science, anthropology, osteology, and anatomy...

, are inadmissible as forensic evidence
Daubert Standard
The Daubert standard is a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses' testimony during United States federal legal proceedings. Pursuant to this standard, a party may raise a Daubert motion, which is a special case of motion in limine raised before or during trial to exclude...

 in the United States.

In the United States


Physical anthropology is one of the divisions of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences
American Academy of Forensic Sciences
The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a professional society for people in all areas of forensics.For over sixty years, the AAFS has served a distinguished and diverse membership. Its nearly 6,000 members are divided into eleven sections spanning the forensic enterprise...

.
Two of the most important research collections of human skeletal remains in the U.S. are the Hamann-Todd Collection, housed in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum located approximately five miles east of downtown Cleveland, Ohio in University Circle, a 550-acre concentration of educational, cultural and medical institutions...

 and the Terry Collection
Terry Collection
The Robert J. Terry Anatomical Skeletal Collection is a collection of some 1,728 human skeletons held by the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA.It was created by Robert J...

, housed in the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

. These collections are an important historic basis for the statistical
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

 analysis necessary to make estimates and predictions from found remains. More modern collections include the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Practitioners


There are few people who identify themselves as forensic anthropologists, and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, there are fewer than 100 Anthropologists certified as Diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology(DABFA). Most Diplomates work in the academic field and consult on casework as it arises.

Notable forensic anthropologists

  • Mildred Trotter
    Mildred Trotter
    Mildred Trotter was an important 20th century forensic anthropologist.Trotter was born in Monaca, Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in zoology and physiology from Mount Holyoke College in 1920 and her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1924...

      (1899–1991)
  • Ellis R. Kerley
    Ellis R. Kerley
    Ellis R. Kerley was a Canadian anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of Forensic anthropology, which is a field of expertise particularly useful to criminal investigators and for the identification of human remains for humanitarian purposes...

      (1924–1998)
  • John Lawrence Angel
    John Lawrence Angel
    John Lawrence Angel was a British-American biological anthropologistborn on 21 March 1915 in London. His mother, Elizabeth, was an American classicist, and his father, John, was a British sculptor. The family emigrated to the United States in 1928. Angel completed his undergraduate degree at...

     (1915–1988)
  • William R. Maples
    William R. Maples
    * Maples, William R. and Browning, Michael . Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Existe versión en español "Los muertos también hablan" -External links:* * *...

     (1937–1997)
  • George W. Gill
    George W. Gill
    George W. Gill is an American anthropologist. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wyoming and is "widely recognized as an expert in skeletal biology".-Easter Island:...

      (University of Wyoming
    University of Wyoming
    The University of Wyoming is a land-grant university located in Laramie, Wyoming, situated on Wyoming's high Laramie Plains, at an elevation of 7,200 feet , between the Laramie and Snowy Range mountains. It is known as UW to people close to the university...

    , Emeritus)
  • William M. Bass
    William M. Bass
    William Marvin Bass III is an American forensic anthropologist, best known for his research on human osteology and human decomposition. He has also assisted federal, local, and non-U.S. authorities in the identification of human remains...

      (University of Tennessee
    University of Tennessee
    The University of Tennessee is a public land-grant university headquartered at Knoxville, Tennessee, United States...

    , Emeritus) DABFA
  • Sue Black  (University of Dundee
    University of Dundee
    The University of Dundee is a university based in the city and Royal burgh of Dundee on eastern coast of the central Lowlands of Scotland and with a small number of institutions elsewhere....

    , UK)
  • Jane E. Buikstra
    Jane E. Buikstra
    Jane Ellen Buikstra is an American anthropologist and bioarchaeologist. She is credited with coining and defining bioarchaeology in the US as the application of biological anthropological methods to the study of archaeological problems. Emphasis was placed on problem-oriented research...

      (Arizona State University
    Arizona State University
    Arizona State University is a public research university located in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area of the State of Arizona...

    ) DABFA
  • Karen Ramey Burns
    Karen Ramey Burns
    Karen Ramey Burns is an American forensic anthropologist known for work in international human rights. Her specialty is the recovery and identification of human remains in criminal, historical, archaeological, and disaster-related circumstances...

      (University of Utah
    University of Utah
    The University of Utah, also known as the U or the U of U, is a public, coeducational research university in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. The university was established in 1850 as the University of Deseret by the General Assembly of the provisional State of Deseret, making it Utah's oldest...

    )
  • Michael Finnegan
    Michael Finnegan
    Michael Finnegan may refer to:* Michael Finnegan , reporter for the L.A. Times* Michael C. Finnegan, former Chief of Staff for New York Governor George Pataki* Michael Finnegan , Minister of Housing from Belize...

      (Kansas State University
    Kansas State University
    Kansas State University, commonly shortened to K-State, is an institution of higher learning located in Manhattan, Kansas, in the United States...

    ) DABFA
  • Elizabeth Murray
    Elizabeth Murray
    Elizabeth Murray may refer to:*Lady Elizabeth Murray, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Mansfield*Elizabeth Murray , American artist*Elizabeth Murray, wife of Edward Robbins and great-great grandmother to Franklin D. Roosevelt...

      (College of Mount St. Joseph
    College of Mount St. Joseph
    The College of Mount St. Joseph is a private, Catholic, co-educational college located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also known as “the Mount,” the College was founded in 1920 by the Sisters of Charity and educates students through interdisciplinary liberal arts and professional curricula emphasizing...

    ) DABFA
  • Fredy Peccerelli
    Fredy Peccerelli
    Fredy Peccerelli , a forensic anthropologist, is the Director and one of the founding members of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation in Guatemala City, a nongovernmental organization that exhumes mass graves of victims of Guatemala's civil war...

      (Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation
    Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation
    The Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation is an autonomous, non-profit, technical and scientific non-governmental organisation.Its aim is to strengthen the administration of justice and respect for human rights by investigating, documenting, and raising awareness about past instances of...

    )
  • Kathy Reichs
    Kathy Reichs
    Kathleen Joan Toelle "Kathy" Reichs is an American crime writer, forensic anthropologist and academic . She is a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, but is currently on indefinite leave...

      (University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    The University of North Carolina at Charlotte , also known as UNC Charlotte or simply Charlotte, is a public research university located in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States...

    ) DABFA
  • Clyde Snow
    Clyde Snow
    Clyde Snow is a well known U.S. forensic anthropologist. Some of his skeletal confirmations include John F. Kennedy, victims of John Wayne Gacy, King Tutankhamun, victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, and Dr. Josef Mengele.Snow started his higher education at the New Mexico Military Institute were...

      (Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team
    Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team
    The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team is an Argentine not-for-profit scientific non-governmental organisation...

    ) DABFA
  • Douglas H. Ubelaker
    Douglas H. Ubelaker
    Douglas H. Ubelaker is an American forensic anthropologist. He works as a curator for the Smithsonian Institution, and has published numerous papers and monographs that have helped establish modern procedures in forensic anthropology...

      (Smithsonian Institution
    Smithsonian Institution
    The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

    , George Washington University
    George Washington University
    The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

    ) DABFA
  • Hugh E. Berryman  (Middle Tennessee State University
    Middle Tennessee State University
    Middle Tennessee State University, commonly abbreviated as MTSU, is a public university located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States....

    ) DABFA

See also

  • Craniofacial anthropometry
  • Physical Anthropology
    Physical anthropology
    Biological anthropology is that branch of anthropology that studies the physical development of the human species. It plays an important part in paleoanthropology and in forensic anthropology...

  • Bioarchaeology
    Bioarchaeology
    The term bioarchaeology was first coined by British archaeologist Grahame Clark in 1972 as a reference to zooarchaeology, or the study of animal bones from archaeological sites...

  • Forensic archaeology
    Forensic archaeology
    Forensic archaeology, a forensic science, is the application of archaeological principles, techniques and methodologies in a legal context .-Overview:...

  • Fordisc
    FORDISC
    FORDISC, an interactive discriminant functions program created by Stephen Ousley and Richard Jantz, is widely used by forensic anthropologists to assist in the creation of a decedent's biological profile when only parts of the cranium are available. The program compares potential profiles to data...

  • Forensic pathology
    Forensic pathology
    Forensic pathology is a branch of pathology concerned with determining the cause of death by examination of a corpse. The autopsy is performed by the pathologist at the request of a coroner or medical examiner usually during the investigation of criminal law cases and civil law cases in some...

  • Forensic odontology
  • Forensics
    Forensics
    Forensic science is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. This may be in relation to a crime or a civil action...

  • Forensic facial reconstruction
    Forensic facial reconstruction
    Forensic facial reconstruction is the process of recreating the face of an individual from their skeletal remains through an amalgamation of artistry, forensic science, anthropology, osteology, and anatomy...


Universities in the UK


Other