Forensic Anthropology

Review Questions

1. What are epiphyseal fusions? What can they tell a forensic anthropologist?

– Epiphyseal fusion is the fusion, and/or the closing of the ends of “growth plates”, or at places like the clavicle, iliac crest, and the long bones in our arms and legs.

2. What is ethnobotany? Why is this area helpful for forensic anthropologists?

– Ethnobotany is the study of plant remains and pollens. I’d imagine that this would help determine time, and/or cause of death.

3. What is facial reconstruction? Why is it used?

– Facial reconstruction involves using the cranium or skull, as well as any other aspects of the person that may be known, to create a representation of what the person may have looked like to help determine who the person was, and in some cases help determine the cause of death.

4. How do male and female bones tend to differ?

– Male and female bones tend to differ mainly in size and shape, some of the more outstanding differences are the different shapes of parts of the skull, pelvis, and jaw.

5. How does a forensic scientist estimate the height of a victim?

– A victim’s height is generally estimated using an equation designed to predict height. Once they have all of the long bones in the arms and legs, they are often able to create a more accurate estimation of the victim’s height.

Critical Thinking Questions

1. Why is forensic anthropology an important part of forensic science? What does this area add to the investigation of crime?

– Forensic anthropology is an important part of forensic science because without any knowledge of bones in forensic science, you wouldn’t really be able to learn very much information about any victims that had decomposed down to bone, or lost their flesh in any sort of way.

2. Imagine that you have been called to an area where bones have been found. What would you do at this spot to help you better understand what happened?

– I would first make sure to check the entire area above, and below the surface of the ground. Make sure every last piece and fragment of bone or evidence was accounted for, had sketches and/or pictures of where they were before they had been disturbed, and then noted. Then I would examine the evidence along with the bones to see if I could possibly tell if the victim had any type of disease or sickness, or any other cause of death. Maybe even determine who the person was.

3. What are some of the differences between traditional facial reconstruction and computer facial reconstruction? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

– Some of the differences between digital, and non-digital facial reconstruction are well, you’ll need a forensic anthropologist for both, an artist for one, and a computer with the correct programs installed, and the correct machines and comparison data for the other.

4. What is a scatter pattern? What can it tell a forensic anthropologist?

– A scatter pattern in forensics refers to the way bones have been scattered from their original set place where they were when they were still attached to the victim’s skeleton.

5. How can the age of a body be estimated using bones? What are some of the different areas of the body that may give an indication of age?

– A forensic anthropologist can get an estimate of a victim’s age by examining placement of teeth, Epiphyseal fusions, length of the longer bones in the legs and arms, and the degree of closure of sutures.

What do you think?

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