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Hairs

Forensic Science

HUMAN HAIR IS CLASS EVIDENCE


Asian

European

African

HUMAN HAIR AS CLASS EVIDENCE


Can often determine body area of origin
Can determine shed vs. forcibly
removed
Can often determine racial origin
Race
Diameter
Cross
Pigment
Cuticle Undulation

Section

(waviness)

African

69-90 um

Flat

Dense,
clumped

Prevalent

European

70-100 um

Oval

Evenly
Medium Uncommon
distributed

Asian

90-120 um

Round

Dense
Auburn

Thick

Never

HAIRS ARE CONTINUOUSLY SHED

We lose about 100


hairs every 24 hours
Hair grows at a rate
of 1 cm per month
Hair is replaced
every 3-5 years with
new hair
Course hairs grow at
a slower rate and
fall out less
frequently than finer
hairs do.

Morphology of Hair (form and structure)

Hair is made up of polymers (complex


cross linked proteins)
Grows out of the
dermis in follicles
Because the follicle is
linked to the blood
supply, hair can be
analyzed for drugs and
poisons.

HAIR STRUCTURE
Hair is composed of three principal parts:
Cuticle clear outer coating composed of overlapping scales

Cortex protein-rich (keratin)


structure around the medulla that
contains pigment (no pigment makes
gray and white hair)

Medulla central core


(may be continuous,
interrupted or in
pieces/fragmented)

http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00206/lesson.htm#t_hair

CUTICLE STRUCTURE
The scales point toward the tip of the hair
Coronal
Imbricate

mouse

Spinous

cat

human

HAIR STRUCTURE

Cuticle
The cuticle varies in:
Its scales,
How many there are per centimeter,
How much they overlap,
Their overall shape, and
How much they protrude from the
surface
Its thickness, and
Whether or not it contains pigment.
Characteristics of the cuticle may be important in distinguishing
between hairs of different species but are often not useful in
distinguishing between different people.
Info: http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00206/lesson.htm#t_hair

Image: http://www.hairdressersus.com/micro/Image5b.jpg

HAIR STRUCTURE

Cortex
The cortex varies in:
Thickness
Texture
Color
Distribution of the cortex is perhaps the most important component
in determining from which individual a human hair may have come.
Microscopic examination can also reveal the condition and shape of
the root and tip.
Info: http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00206/lesson.htm#t_hair

Image: http://www.extrapersonality.com/hair.html

MEDULLA PATTERNS

Medullary Index (medulla/shaft diameter)


human hair generally <1/3
animal hair >=1/2
Medullary Shape
human => normally cylindrical
Animal => varies by species
Native Americans and Asians have continuous medulla

HAIR STRUCTURE

Medulla
The medulla may vary in:
Thickness
Continuity - one continuous structure
or broken into pieces
Opacity - how much light is able to
pass through it
It may also be absent in some species.
Like the cuticle, the medulla can be important for
distinguishing between hairs of different species, but often
does not lend much important information to the
differentiation between hairs from different people.
http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00206/lesson.htm#t_hair

http://www.bfro.net/images/whatis/figures/Fig.%203%20with%20caption.jpg

HAIR SHAPE

Can be straight, curly, or kinky, depending on


the cross-section, which may be round, oval,
or crescent-shaped.

Round
(Straight)
Generally Asians and
Native Americans

Oval
(Curly)
American and
European
whites,
mexicans, and
middle easterns

Crescent moon
(Kinky)
African

Race

Appearance Pigment
granules

Cross
section

other

Europea Straight or
n
wavy

Small and
evenly
distributed

Oval or
round

Color may be
blond, red,
brown, or
black

Asian

Straight

Densely
distributed

round

Shaft tends
to be course
and straight
Thick cuticle
Continuous
medulla

African

Kinky, curly
or coiled

Densely
distributed
clumped

flattened

SHAPE OF HAIR

The physical characteristics of hairs provide information


about which part of the body they came from
Hair from a beard is course and triangular in cross section

Pubic hair
showing
buckling

Beard hair
with
double
medulla

Arm or leg
hair with
blunt, frayed
end

PENCIL ANALOGY

The structure of hair has been compared to that of


a pencil with the medulla being the lead, the
cortex being the wood and the cuticle being the
paint on the outside. Shape of the pencil is the
cross section, the pencil point is the tip and the
eraser is the root.

HAIR GROWTH

If hair comes out in this


stage it has follicular
tissue attached, looks
stretched and pigment
granules may be seen
because hair is still
growing

Follicles are
ready to push
out mature hair.
Bulblike shape
of root, few
pigment
granules near it

HAIR GROWTH

Hair growth stages (Remember ACT):

Anagen: hair follicle is actively producing


the hair; follicle is attached to root (101000 days)
Catagen: transition stage in which the root
is pushed out of the follicle (14-21 days)
Telogen: hair naturally becomes loose and
falls out (100 days) hairs on your brush or
comb are in this stage
Forcibly
removed
Fallen out

HAIR GROWTH

The tip of a mature hair will


taper to a point

A recently cut hair will be


squared off for 2-3 weeks

An abused hair will have


split ends (dryness, lack of
care, harsh chemicals, blow
dryers etc)

FORENSIC ANALYSIS OF HAIR

The following questions apply to hair


evidence:

Is the hair human or animal?


Does it match the hair of the suspect?
Does Cat
it have a follicle for DNA
testing?
Human

COLLECTION OF HAIR EVIDENCE

Questioned hairs must be accompanied


compared with an adequate number of
control samples

from victim
from suspects
From animals

Representative control samples

50 full-length hairs from all areas of scalp


24 full-length pubic hairs

CLASS EVIDENCE

The more characteristics that are


similar the greater the degree of
probability of association
A single significant difference between
the questioned (unknown) and the
exemplar (known) sample will rule out
a suspect
DNA can only be done on the root of
the hair

HAIR AS A CHEMICAL INDICATOR

Hair can collect materials that were in


the body

Type of test
Blood
Urine
Hair

Length of
time
Few hours
3-5 days
Months
(shows
specific
patterns of
use)

analogy

snapshot
Time exposure
Album

Its time to examine


some hairs!

http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/techniques/polarized/gallery/images/humansmall.jpg

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE ANIMAL HAIRS SHOWN?

G
E

Think About It
(1) In which samples are we viewing the cuticle? How do they compare?
(2) In which samples are we viewing the medulla? How do they compare?
(3) What characteristics can be used to identify hair samples?

Answer Keys
http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/techniques/polarized/gallery/images/humansmall.jpg

TYPES OF ANIMAL HAIRS - KEY

Cat

Horse

Pig

Human

G
E

Deer

Dog

Rabbit

Rat

Human