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BONE DETECTIVES

Elaina Porter, Faith Porter, Hannah Payne, Catherine Milem, Lauren Boling, and Caitlin Sullivan
9/6/2016
INTRODUCTION
In Project 1.2.3 Bone Detectives, a group of forensic anthropologists, which consisted of 6
members, were asked to carefully examine skeletal remains to reveal information about the
skeletons gender, height, age, and ethnic origin. The forensic anthropologists used quantitative
and qualitative measures to indicate the traits of a pelvis, skull, humerus, and tibia. The
anthropologists coupled up and carefully gathered important clues about each bone by using both
metric measurements and direct observations, then recorded their data and predicted the identity
of the skeleton. After predicting the skeletons gender, height, age, and ethnic origin in pairs, the
forensic anthropologists brought their data, observations, and predictions together to reach a final
conclusion as a whole.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Upon gathering data from the pelvis, skull, tibia, and humerus, it was determined that the bones
belonged to a female. All evidence gathered from the pelvis helped in determining the sex of the
skeleton to be female. The pelvis was circular, wide, and mainly showed the coccyx with large
sub-pubic and greater sciatic notch angles like that of a female pelvis. The pubis body width was
a little less than that of a typical female pelvis, but it was not small enough to belong to a male.
There was some difficulty when determining the angle of the greater sciatic notch. The greater
sciatic notch angle was determined by tracing the notch on a piece of paper then using a
protractor to measure the angle. It was determined that the greater sciatic notch was 80 degrees.
Most of the data taken from analyzing the skull indicated that it was a female skull, as shown in
Table 1. As Table 1 indicates, the skull had mainly female characteristics except the external
occipital protuberance appeared to be generally present and the frontal bone was lower and
slanting like that of a male. There was some difficulty in coming up with a final decision while
collecting the data for sex determination of the skull. Upon examining the skull as a group,
agreement was finally met and it was determined that though the skull had some male
characteristics, it was a female skull. All of the quantitative data taken from the tibia and
humerus indicated that they were both the bones of a female. The maximum epiphyseal breadth
of both the distal and proximal tibia were very close to that of the average female. The maximum
length the end the epicondylar width of the humerus were also very close the female average.
The vertical and transverse diameter of the humeral head were notably smaller than the female
average, but far too small to be that of a male.

Ethnicity
The most difficult part of the bone analysis was determining the ethnic origin of the skeleton. It
was expected that the skull was a white or European skull solely based on the looks of it, so
views were biased towards the skull being white before any measurements or data was even
collected. Thankfully, one group member was more open-minded and led the group to success in
determining that it was actually an African skull rather than a European skull. The data collected
from the skull was not consistent, but it did lean towards black more than white or Asian. The
nasal index was found by dividing the nasal width by the nasal height. The skulls nasal width
was .54mm, which categories as a black nasal index (>.53mm). Some quantitative evidence was
used in determining the ethnic background, but most of the data for determining the ethnicity
was qualitative.
Age
It has been concluded that the age of the individual was 3o years old. The age determination was
done by looking at the bones and seeing if they matched what the table in Table 2 said. By
examining the pelvis, humorous, and tibia, we have determined that the bones look matured and
grown. This is true except for the pubic bone joining on the pelvis. The reason we had this
problem is because the illium, ischium, and pubis bone are not fully ossified with any evidence
of epiphyseal unions. Besides this all other properties of the bones lead to the individual to being
at least thirty. This is most proven by all segments of the sacrum are united with no evidence of
epiphyseal unions.
Height
It was concluded that the individual is 5 0.8 - 5 4.1. This information is derived from the
humorous. The maximum length of the humorous (MLH) was used to help determine the height
range. We used the formula:
3.08(MLH) + 64.67 (+-) 4.25. This formula is specific to race and gender. Using a formula
specific to both gender and race will help get the closest estimate to the height range.

FURTHER ANALYSIS
There are many different factors that could further the data that was collected on the skeletal
remains. One would be facial reconstruction. Facial reconstruction is the duplication of facial
features based on different factors of the skull using clay to mold the face. This practice could be
very beneficial in different cases when helping to find the identity of the skeleton. This could
help with this because there would be an idea of what the face would look like, so relatives and
friends could help identify the remains or they could be identified based on public records by
comparing the face to pictures of people. If there was already a narrowed down list of who the
bones could possibly belong to, having a face to match the body would make the investigation
much more expeditious. Another factor that can help identify a skeleton, is observing the cracks
and fractures from arms and legs from early childhood injuries. These cracks can also show the
investigation site how the victim may have died. For example, holes in the skull can indicate a
beating to the head, being hit with a blunt object, or getting shot. After testing and observing the
marks in the bone, scientists can determine what has happened to the person, and using the
information gathered from early childhood marks in the bone, indicating injuries, will help
identify the person as well. Skeletal remains can not only give us indication to sex, race and age,
but they can also give us country of origin. As forensic scientists have technological advances,
they are able to gather minerals from the bone, and reference them to drinking waters all around
the globe. This test would be very useful, if a person is traveling the world, is in a country
illegally, or there are just simply no other mean of identification. Diseases such as tuberculosis,
syphilis, and psoriasis are all things that can be very harmful to the bones. By looking at the
bones, it can be identified if the victim has had any of the diseases, making it easier to identify
them. If the suspected victim was known to have any of these diseases it resulted in a positive
identification of the victim.

CONCLUSION
When the anthropologist examined the different parts of the skeleton they believed that the bones
belonged to a black female in her 30s. They came to that conclusion because most of the
calculations pointed that way, although some did not. Some of the aspects of the skull showed
that the skull was white. The most important results showed that the skull was black, so they said
the skull was black. All of the calculations showed that the skeleton was a girl and that she was
in her 30s.
DNA ANALYSIS
The first time the DNA was ran through the gel electrophoresis the results were inconclusize due
to the inablitly to see the clear cuts in the gel. The DNA was ran again, and the next time the
results were clear. By thoroughly analyzing the gel, it was found that the DNA from the skeleton
matched the DNA from the missing person two. Missing persons one and two had the same
results when cut with enzyme one; however, they had different outcomes when cut with enzyme
two. As you can see in Figure 1 by looking at the DNA fragments, missing person number twos
results matched the DNA from the skeleton with both enzymes digested into them. The DNA
analysts were able to narrow down the results, and clearly affirm who the DNA belonged to,
missing person two.
FINAL CONCLUSION
Upon using qualititavive and quantitative data, a conclusion was reached that the skelton
belonged to an appoximately five feet tall, female of African decent who was at least 30 years
old. Two familied presented their mssing family members DNA because they were simular to
the description of the information from the bones that were gathered. After analysis, all the data
that was gathered was combined to decide the final results, that the skeleton belong to missing
person two.

Table 1. Sex Determination of Skull.

Table 2. Development Occurrence vs. Approximate Age.

Figure 1. DNA fragments after gel electrophoresis.

Cited Sources

(2011). Retrieved September 06, 2016, from https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/aboutus/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/jan2001/phillips.htm


Team, T. F. (2013). 3 Ways to Identify a Body When DNA is Not An Option. Retrieved
September 06, 2016, from http://forensicoutreach.com/library/three-ways-to-identify-a-bodywhen-dna-is-not-an-option/