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What Do We Tell the Sheriff?

Determining Minimum Numbers of Individuals (MNI) for a Scatter of Human Bones


Author(s)

http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/collection/detail.html?case_id=223&id=223
Phoebe R. Stubblefield
Department of Anthropology
University of North Dakota
phoebe.stubblefield@und.edu
Elizabeth Scharf
Department of Anthropology
University of North Dakota
elizabeth.scharf@und.nodak.edu

Abstract

Students explore the issues involved in investigating and reporting on a scatter of skeletal remains to the police in this case study.  In addition, the case teaches students about skeletal identification and the quantification of skeletal elements. The case has been used in an introductory archaeology course as well as an upper-division archaeological lab methods class, a senior zooarchaeology and archaeobotany class, and an introductory level forensic anthropology course.


Objectives

  • Define and use the following concepts/tools for counting bones from a site: NISP (number of identified specimens) and MNI (minimum number of individuals).
  • Recognize a typical ethical conflict confronted by forensic anthropologists.
  • Describe appropriate ethical and professional behavior for forensic anthropologists.
  • Explain the effects of available information on MNI quantification.

Keywords

Bone scatter; bone assemblage; minimum numbers of individuals; MNI; number of identified specimens; NISP; human remains; criminal investigation; chain of command; chain of custody; ethical reporting

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Interrupted, Role-Play

Language

English

Subject Headings

Anthropology Forensic Science Journalism


Date Posted

07/02/09

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