Forensic Anthropology Objectives *Bertino 2009



  1. Discuss the role of bones in forensic science
  2. Be able to analyze skeletal remains and provide as much data as possible about the identity of the person.
  3. List characteristics of bone that demonstrate that bone is considered living.
  4. Explain why bones are considered to be a tissue of the body.
  5.  Discuss several functions of the bone.



  1. Compare the number of bones and the amount of cartilage in an infant and an adult
  2. Know the roles of osteoblasts, osteoclasts, cartilage and osteocytes
  3. Know the process of ossification
  4. Discuss cartilaginous lines found between bones.
    1. What causes them to appear?
    2. When do they disappear?
    3. How can identification of cartilaginous lines be of any assistance to forensic scientists?



  1. Explain the role of the periosteum in the maintenance of bone.
  2. Describe how bone is constantly being repaired and replaced as we grow.
  3. Discuss what happens to your bones as you age. Male vs female



  1. Discuss osteoporosis:
    1. What is the condition? Symptoms? Cause? Treamtent? Prevention?
    2. When during your life do you build the most bone?
    3. What effect does weight bearing exercise have on bone?
    4. What effect does menopause have on bone density?
    5. Is there a genetic factor?



  1. Define each of the following terms:
    1. Articulation
    2. Tendons
    3. Ligaments
    4. joints
  2. Given a diagram of the knee label the parts



  1. Given formulas for height for different sexes and ethnic groups, to be able to estimate the approximate height of the person based on different bones.
  2. Using a given formula, predict height based on foot size.



  1. Given a diagram of suture marks on a skull, and the approximate age of ossification, be able to determine the estimated age of a skull form the closing of these suture marks. Range of ages.
  2. Given the graph of the size of the femur and the age of the child, to be able to estimate the age based on femur length.
  3. Compare the vertebral rings on a person 18 years of age and someone 17 or younger (Not this year 09.10)
  4. Given the presence of teeth, estimate a range of age years.



  1. Given the diagram of male and female pelvis, to beable to explain differences based on:
    1. Width of pelvic opening
    2. Length and width of sacrum
    3. Sub pubic angle
    4. Shape of pelvis opening : heart or oval
    5. Shape of pubis : triangular or rectangular
  2. Given an X ray of the femur and the pelvis, be able to determine if you have a male or female.
  3. Given a diagram or actual skull, be able to distinguish between male and female based on
    1. Smoothness of skull
    2. Occipital protuberance (back of the head)
    3. Brow ridges
    4. Forehead shape: sloping or vertical
    5. Shape of the eyes: round or rectangular
    6. Jaw angle
  4. Distinguish between male and female skeletal remains based on skull, jaw, brow ridge, pelvis and femur.
  5. Explain why women are more prone to knee injuries than men based upon the differences in the pelvic and femur bones.


  1. Given a skull, distinguish between Caucasoid, Negroid, or Mongoloid races based upon
    1. Shape of the face
    2. Shape of the eye orbits
    3. Nasal index
    4. Teeth
  2. Given a femur, be able to explain how to eliminate Negroid as a racial group.


  1. Describe how the following conditions are noted on the skeletal remains:
    1. Arthritis
    2. Osteoporosis
    3. Previos bone fractures
    4. Nutritional deficiencies such as lack of Vit D or Calcium
    5. Tuberculosis or syphilis


  1. Osteobiography refers to showing one’s bone life history through examination of skeletal remains. Explain how each can be determined:
    1. Male or female
    2. Age over 30
    3. Age over 50
    4. Age under 18
    5. Age over 32
    6. Height
    7. Was the person left or right handed?
    8. Types of sports?
    9. Broken bone history
    10. Number of pregnancie
  2. Explain what can be determined about a person based on the following bone evidence:
    1. Bones are smooth
    2. Bones are knobby
    3. Bones are very strong
    4. Vertebrae have fused rings
    5. Joints show wear and tear especially around the knees and hip
    6. Notches are carved on the pubic bone
    7. Molars have come through the oral cavity



  1. Explain how the cause of death from different types of saws can be determined by looking at markings left on the bone for each of the blades below:

Chain saw               Blade saw                    Hack saw



  1. Explain the role of dental and skeletal evidence in identification of the bodies of the Romanov Family.



  1. Describe the difference between nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA.
  2. Describe the role of mitochondrial DNA in bone identification.



  1. Discuss how facial reconstruction is done using the skeleton of the head.
  2. Discuss the role of technology in forensic anthropology.
  3. Discuss skeletal trauma analysis:
    1. Why is this done?
    2. What are forensic anthropologists trying to discover?
    3. How is it possible to determine if damage to a bone was done before or after death?
    4. How is it possible to identify the type of weapon used on a victim through skeletal analysis?