“Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology to the legal process. The identification of skeletal, badly decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains is important for both legal and humanitarian reasons. Forensic anthropologists apply standard scientific techniques developed in physical anthropology to identify human remains, and to assist in the detection of crime. Forensic anthropologists frequently work in conjunction with forensic pathologists, Odontologists, and homicide investigators to identify a decedent, discover evidence of foul play, and/or the post mortem interval. In addition to assisting in locating and recovering suspicious remains, forensic anthropologists work to suggest the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and unique features of a decedent from the skeleton.”

Now the question arises, “Why study bones?” In summary, the answer is that bones often survive the process of decay and provide the main evidence for the human form after death.

When skeletanized remains are discovered, one needs to establish first if the bones are human. If so, the sex, race, age, stature, weight, and any pathology of the newly acquired skeleton must be established in order to make an identification of the remains, determine manner and cause of death and, if homicide, identify the murderer. Besides the above mentioned data, a forensic anthropologist, on the basis of his expertise and experience can also approximately estimate the time since death from the skeletal remains and finally, an anthropologist can further proceed to the process of facial reconstruction, in order to establish a complete identity of the deceased.  It is the job of the Forensic Anthropologist to pursue these matters, make a report and possibly testify in court.

Forensic Anthropology: An Introduction

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