Case Study: Interpreting Forensic Anthropological Evidence


The skeleton under study can be associated with an adult male aged between 45-55 years. Though it was not possible to determine if there was a postmortem trauma, it was clear that there was an antemortem fracture considering the nature of the fractured bone. Since the body was not buried, the damage cannot be attributed to the excavation process. The main taphomonic variables include the degradation of the skeleton. The absence of any adherent materials. There was also a divergence in the cortical surfaces because most bones are light brown in color but this was was white as if it was bleached. The fragmentation of the skeletons can be attributed to high energy or the act of animals such as scavenging or predation. The photographs were taken by the police as part of the documentation of the evidence and most information were derived from the photographs

Background – Where were the remains found? Who were they found by? What conditions were they in?

The skeleton zed remain were found on the outskirts of the city. Most of the remains were disarticulated, incomplete, and scattered over 15m by 10 meters area. The remains were not buried in the ground as they were on the surface covered only by a thick layer of snow. The local recreational cross-country skier found the remains. It is also clear that the skeletons must have been buried at some point because they have been lying there for a period (Hillson, 1996).

Part 1: Inventory Condition of Remains:




Human skeletal remains,

Skeletal material

left and right os coxae, Vertebrae (short and broad Sacrum), Skull, Upper and lower dentition, Right clavicle, Right humerus, as well as the Pelvic remains


Not provided


The bones are smooth and striated. there are evidences of sun bleaching, and weathering

Pupa cases in – foramen

found within the suprascapular fossa of the left scapula, in the pubic symphyseal ridges of the right os coxa, and the clothing

Plant materials, soils, and soil staining



The bones are light in colors

Gross morphology of the innominate

Pelvic morphology exhibits a wide sciatic notch with deep and well-delineated preauricular sulcus. Obtuse sciatic notch, the presence of a ventral arc on the pubis, obtuse subpubic angle is extremely U-shaped

os coxae indicates that a non-granular surface, lack of macroporosity, some billowing, lack of activity in the smooth retro auricular area.

Possible antemortem injury to the inferior glenoid fossa

The medial surface of the left clavicle is in the process of fusing

the iliac crest

The pelvis is generally small and the Ilium is low and flat. The iliac crest is not completely fused.

the epiphyseal line

Not provided


The skeleton has complete dentition, Most teeth are present, Third molars are erupted and intact. Teeth have some wear, which is more pronounced on the right side

Inventory and assessment –

Based on the skeleton features, the Taphonomic history can be said to include the skeleton of a Caucasian male. The age of the Caucasian male can be estimated to be slighted between 45- 55 because the teeth were slightly worn out. The morphological features of the bones also indicate that the man was above 40 years of age. If age is based on the third molar development and the overall epiphyseal fusion, it can be estimated at 45-55 years. The gum starts to recede at 40 tears. The man must have been from a local area probably the village because he had no apparent restorations or dental work. However, with the wear of the maximilary teeth. The advanced irregular wear can be said to be task oriented. The absence of the Carabelli’s cusps helps in eliminating the possibility of the skeleton being a European (Haury, 1985).

This also makes the individual likely to be a resident of the pacific islands. It is also important to note the fact that the skeleton belong to a male within the ages of 45-55 year and is most likely to have been a male of mogolon culture because the palate is elliptical in shape and high with medium lower jaw. The fact that the Medial clavicle epiphysis was unfused means that the skeleton belonged to a man, because the medial epiphysis of female clavicles fused earlier than their male counterparts. Based on the morphology of the pelvis, it can be considered masculine because it is narrow. The rotation of the shoulder means that there was repetitive lifting with the elbow especially on the right side greater than the left sight means that the skeleton belonged to a right-handed person. Additionaly, it is also important to note that the sex can als0 be determined using the large for moral head diameter (Holmgren, &, Fordham, 2011).

The teeth were also large despite being worn out that can be ruled out as tasks related. Most female have very short humerus, but thus skeleton has along humerus (30.2 cm) which is mostly associated with male (Haag, &, Haag, 2011). Other important factors that contribute to the identity of the gender include the broader and shallower basis. The narrow sciatic notch and the long symphysis. It is also clear that the pubic bones did not form abroad angle to each other.

Additionaly, the consistency of the skeleton with that of a male-aged 40-55 years of age makes the candidate a likely older skier. It is also healthy to note that the person died of other reason apart from PTSD. The fact the there were no antemortem trauma. However, the fracture of the left side of the frontal bone is likely to suggest that the person died of injury during a bad weather and the people did not come outside to help (Pietrusewsky, & Douglas, 2002).

Time since death

The fact that the dead person was buried under snow means that the person died before it started snowing. Additionaly, it is also healthy to argue that skeleton belonged who died during summer because the skeleton was sun bleached and because it had been snowing. The time since death can therefore be estimated two 2 months one month of summer sun (sun bleaching), and one month of winters (snow covering).

Manner of death

The person must have died of injury, to fractures of damages on the skull. The initial report stated that Skull exhibits a comminuted depressed fracture measuring 2.2 × 1.3-cm on the left

side of the frontal bone. Slight beveling is seen on the inner table of the skull. However, the case of death can be ruled as animal attack because the body parts were scattered all over the place. Animals do not eat bones, they fight for flesh. So the cause of death can be attributed to animal attack. There were articulation and the implication was the multi-element skeleton. These were however, disarticulated after the person died. There may have been rapid burial.

The number of individuals represented

The minimum number of people that may have been represented is two considering the fact that there were some parts of a male while some bone features were of female. For example, the evidence of ventral arch on the left pubis and a subpubic cavity, the extremely U-shaped subpubic angle. The obturator foramen is intermediate and triangular are mainly associated with women than men, but this is one feature (Byers, 2011).

Postmortem trauma

A blunt object or fell down and his head must have killed the person and left to die and later articulated or fragmented by scavenging animals.

Personal identification

The personal identification can be determined from the clothing. For example, the clothing in poor condition, the coins and the pair of glasses which appear to have been left in a pocket all indicated that the person died during summer. The pair of glasses may have been sunglasses, the coin as in most cases carried by men in their pockets. Women carry their accessories in handbags. The clothing in poor condition can be attributed to a casual laborer.


Haag, Michael G. and Haag, Lucien C. (2011). Shooting Incident Reconstruction: Second Edition. New York: Academic Press.

Holmgren, Janne A.; Fordham, Judith (January 2011). "The CSI Effect and the Canadian and the Australian Jury". Journal of Forensic Sciences 56 (S1): S63–S71.

Simon Hillson. 1996. Dental Anthropology. Cambridge University Press.

Haury, E. W. (1985). Mogollon culture in the Forestdale Valley, east-central Arizona. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Pietrusewsky, M., & Douglas, M. T. (2002). Ban Chiang, a prehistoric village site in northeast Thailand. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Byers, S. N. (2011). Introduction to forensic anthropology. Boston: Prentice Hall.


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