Forensic biology:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Forensic biology is the application of biology to law enforcement.

It includes the subdisciplines of Forensic anthropology, Forensic botany, Forensic entomology, Forensic odontology and various DNA or protein based techniques.


Forensic anthropology

Forensic anthropology concerns the identification and recovery of remains. In extreme cases where conventional techniques are unable to determine the identity of the remains anthropologists are sometimes able to deduce certain characteristics based on the skeletal remains. Race, sex, age and stature can often be determined by both measuring the remains and looking for structural clues in the bones.

Forensic botany

Forensic botanists look to plant life in order to gain information regarding possible crimes. Leaves, seeds and pollen found either on a body or at the scene of a crime can offer valuable information regarding the timescales of a crime and also if the body has been moved between two or more different locations.

Forensic odontology

Odontologists or dentists can be used in order to aide in an identification of degraded remains. Remains that have been buried for a long period or which have undergone fire damage often contain few clues to the identity of the individual. Tooth enamel as the hardest substance in the human body often endures and as such odontologists can in some circumstances compare recovered remains to dental records.

DNA based techniques

DNA based evidence is perhaps one of the strongest linking tools that law enforcement investigators have at their disposal. DNA evidence can definitively link a suspect to either a crime scene or victim. Nuclear DNA evidence has been recovered from blood, semen, saliva, skin cells and hair. Furthermore Mitochondrial DNA can be recovered from both bone and teeth dating back thousands of years. Laboratory analysis of DNA evidence generally involves Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of any sample recovered followed by quanitification via Capillary electrophoresis in order to obtain a DNA profile which can be compared to suspect DNA.

Popular culture

In popular culture, forensic biology is frequently portrayed in shows like Law & Order, Bones and CSI.

See also

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