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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.


Skeleton; skeletal remains; bony landmark analysis; pelvic morphology; skull morphology; sex determination; height determination; age determination; forensic anthropology

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Anatomy  |   Anthropology  |   Biology (General)  |   Forensic Science  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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