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Dem Bones

Forensic Resurrection of a Skeleton


Alease S. Bruce
Department of Clinical Laboratory & Nutritional Sciences
University of Massachusetts Lowell


In this case study, a forensic anthropologist must determine the age and sex as well as look for signs of trauma to a skeleton found in a shallow grave in a state park. Students simulate the actual procedures used in a forensics lab and learn to identify bones, landmarks, and anatomical features associated with sex, age, height, and pathology. The case was developed for use in a freshman-level human anatomy and physiology course. It could also be used in biology, anatomy, and anthropology courses.

  • To analyze the individual bones of the skeleton and their landmarks.
  • To determine the sex of a skeleton from pelvic morphological distinctions.
  • To determine the sex of a skeleton from skull morphological distinctions.
  • To analyze bones to determine height estimations.
  • To estimate the age of bones of individuals based on morphological changes.
  • To evaluate bones for pathological and physiological changes.
Keywords: Skeleton; skeletal remains; bony landmark analysis; pelvic morphology; skull morphology; sex determination; height determination; age determination; forensic anthropology
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Laboratory
Language: English
Subject Headings: Anatomy   Anthropology   Biology (General)   Forensic Science  
Date Posted: 07/09/01
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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