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Forensic Anthropology: The field of study that deals with the analysis of human skeletal remains
resulting from unexplained deaths.
Development of Bone:
 Bones begin as cartilage then harden to form bone (ossification).
 There are 206 Bones in Human Body
 Joints- location where bones meet
 Cartilage- found at ends of bones and protect bone
 Ligaments- connects bones to bones
 Tendons- connect muscle to bone
Basic Bones:
 Skull: contains bones of the cranium and face
 Arm: humerus (upper arm) ulna and radius (lower arm)
 Leg: femur (upper leg) fibula and tibia (lower leg)
 Sacrum: lower area of the back bone
 Coccyx: lowest part of the sacrum
 Pelvis: hip bone
Male Versus Female:
 Female- Skeleton is much smoother
 Male- Skeleton is thicker, rougher, bumpier and muscles are more developed so where they attach
need to be stronger
 Eye Orbits:
M: square
F: round
 Jaw:
M: square – 90 deg
F: round, V-shape - >90 deg
 Frontal Bone:
M: low and sloping
F: high and rounded
 Occipital bone: (back of skull)
M: bump present
F: bump absent
 Shape of Pelvic Cavity:
M: Heart shaped, narrow
F: Oval shaped, wider
 Subpubic Angle:
M: 50 – 82 deg
F: 90 deg
 Sacrum:
M: long, narrow, curves inward
F: short, broad, curves out
Determining Age: You can determine the approximate age of a victim by looking at certain
bones for any cartilage still remaining.
 Age: Infant or Not? Look at fusion! Babies bones are not Fused together, such as the skull.
 Also look to see if teeth have fallen out.
Age: Sutures are where skull bones connect. These connections develop at different times.
o Lamboidal suture (back of head) – 30 yrs
o Coronal suture (front of head) – 50 yrs
Epiphysis: The presence of a line that marks where cartilage is replaced by bone.
The age of completion varies for each bone.
When the head of a long bone has fused with the shaft it can help determine age
o Humerus head fused: 4 – 6 yrs
o Humerus head fused to shaft: 18 – 20
Young (unfused)
older (fused)
Race (ancestry): Can be difficult due to interracial people so not as significant as other
factors. Race is best determined with skull and femur. Three categories are Asian,
Caucasian, and African (shown in order below).
DNA Evidence: Bones contain little nuclear DNA but do contain mitochondrial DNA. You can compare
mitochondrial DNA with living relatives on the mother's side to identify bones.
Skeletal Trauma Analysis: Forensic anthropologists determine if damage to bones occurred before or
after death.
 Antimortem- before death
 Perimortem- at or around time of death
 Postmortem- after death
There are distinctions between damage caused by weapons and those created by the environment
after death. Photos below are shown in order: antimortem, perimortem, and postmortem. Notice the
postmortem ridges are smoother.
Types of Trauma: Sharp-force trauma, blunt force trauma, and gunshot wounds have distinct patterns
(shown below in order).