FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY & RELATED SCIENCES

 

WHAT IS FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY??
Forensic Anthropology is the application of the study of the humans to situations of modern legal or public concern. It includes the collection preservation and analysis of human skeletal remains for identification and reconstruction of the events surrounding the death of an individual.
  • The scope of Forensic Anthropology is immense and is increasing everyday. The preference of many killers to dump the bodies of their victims in remote sites means that most often the police have nothing but skeletal remains to aid in their investigation. It is then left to the forensic Anthropologist to use this flimsy evidence to shed some light on the case with his expertise.
APPLICATIONS :
Determination of species - The bones should be sorted out into Human and Non Human bones.
Determination of Age - The appearance and union of centres of bone growth and certain other changes in bones and teeth helps the investigator in determining the age of the individual at the time of death.
Determination of Sex - The adult skeleton has several morphological differences between the different sexes which are utilised to determine the sex of the individual.
Determination of Race - The bones have certain morphological characteristics which are confined to individuals of a particular race. Based on these, the racial group to which the individual belongs can be arrived at.
Height - The height of the individual can be calculated with reasonable accuracy by applying formulae to the length of individual bones, especially the long bones of limbs.
 

FORENSIC TAPHONOMY

Forensic Taphonomy is a subfield of forensic anthropology that examines how taphonomic forces have altered evidence that is the subject of a medico legal investigation. It examines the remains themselves and asks how decomposition and destruction (or a lack thereof) of the hard and soft tissues was brought about. It is basically used to determined the time since death.
The factors include:-
• Environmental factors are external variables, such as climate (abiotic) and animals (biotic).
• Individual factors are those that the subjects bring to the decomposition process themselves, such as body size and age at death.
• Cultural (or Behavioral) factors are variables that characterize human mortuary activities, such as embalming, autopsy procedures, and assailant-induced trauma.
 

FORENSIC ARCHEOLOGY

Forensic archaeology is the application of archaeological techniques and methods to the Medico-legal field, normally the enforcement of criminal law.For example forensic archaeologists have been employed by police to excavate grave sites in order to reconstruct the events that took place prior to the burial of the victim.
 

FORENSIC CRANIOMETRY

Craniometry is the technique of measuring the bones of the skull. Brain volume data and other craniometric data is used in mainstream science to compare modern-day animal species, and to analyze the evolution of the human species in archeology
 

FORENSIC ODONTOLOGY

Forensic dentistry or forensic odontology is the proper handling, examination and evaluation of dental evidence, which will be then presented in the interest of justice.The evidence that may be derived from teeth, is the age (in children) and identification of the person to whom the teeth belong. This is done using dental records or ante-mortem (prior to death) photographs.

Forensic Anthropology: FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION

FORENSIC FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION is the process of recreating the face of an individual from their skeletal remains through an amalgamation of of artistry , forensic science, osteology , anthropology and anatomy.
The identification could be :

  1. POSITIVE : is established when a unique set of biological characters of a person are matched with a set of skeletal remains .
  2. CIRCUMSTANTIAL : is established when an individual fits the biological profile of a set of skeletal remains . It does not prove identity because any number of individuals may fit the same biological description.

AGE PROGRESSION
It is a method used to scientifically depict how a person will look like in the future. This method can be used to establish identity of children or adults who have been missing for a number of years.

METHODOLOGY

  • 2-D RECONSTRUCTION

 These are hand drawn portraits based on radio graphs , ante mortem photographs and the skull. Usually requires collaboration of an artist and a forensic anthropologist.

Recently, computer software's have been developed for this purpose they allow high speed reconstruction and subtle variations to be applied to the drawings.

  • 3-D RECONSTRUCTION

They are either SCULPTURES made from casts of cranial remains ,created with modelling clay and other materials or HIGH RESOLUTION ,3-D computer images.
Computer programmes create reconstructions by manipulating scanned photographs of the unidentified cranial remains, stock photographs of the facial features and other available reconstructions.
Skull is the basis of facial reconstruction. It is examined thoroughly, focusing on the identification of any bony pathologies or unusual landmarks , ruggedness of muscle attachment . profile of the mandible .symmetry of the nasal bone , dentition, etc.

Then a plaster cast of the skull is prepared .once it is set, colored plastics are attached at 21 landmarks that correspond to the data. These sites represent the average facial thickness of tissue for the persons of same race, sex, age as that of the remains.

  • SUPERIMPOSITION
    Forensic superimpositions are created by superimposing a photograph of an individual suspected of belonging to the unidentified skeletal remains over an x-ray of the unidentified skull. If the skull and the photograph are of the same person, then the anatomical features should align accurately.

    It is not always included as a technique as investigators must already have some kind of previous knowledge about the identity of the skeletal remains with which they are dealing.
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