⚡ Forensic Anthropologist
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Meet the Forensic Anthropologist
According to her high school online yearbook entry on Brennan, in her senior year, she was a member of the Chemistry Club and Math club, her interests were chemistry and mathematics, and she was a National Merit Scholar and an Academic All-Star. In " The Woman in Limbo " it is revealed before her parents' disappearance she lived with her family in Chicago, Illinois. Although Brennan seemed to have a relatively normal childhood, her parents disappeared when she was 15 years old. Her older brother Russ , himself still an adolescent, was unable to care for her and she was put in the foster care system.
By the time she started college she had been to twelve different schools and has specifically said that she hated the lack of consistency. Brennan was left by her parents when she was a teenager causing her to bounce from house to house as a foster child. This could be one of the reasons for her lack of social skills. It was stated that she did not always have the most stable home growing up.
This could be another reason why she threw herself into books. She felt safe and could rely on facts causing her to be anti-social. Her life as a foster child has impacted her a lot as it has shown from time to time. We learn a little more in The Signs in the Silence about her foster life. It took her a little bit of time to remember what it was like. To be surrounded by strangers in an unknown place. This brought back memories to Brennan and we see this softer side as she becomes determined to find out what happened and to find Amy's real parents. There has been contradictory evidence about her time in the system; in one episode, Brennan stated that her grandfather got her out of the foster system, but in a later episode, she indicates that she never knew her grandparents possibly the two references are to two separate sets of grandparents, paternal and maternal.
However, taking into consideration the fact that Brennan's parents had assumed new identities when she was three years old, the grandfather who had taken her in from her time in the foster system may not have been her biological grandfather. Her time in foster care was quite traumatic and abusive; Brennan indicated that she was once locked in the trunk of a car for two days because she broke a plate, and in the episode " The Finger in the Nest ", she reveals to Booth that she walked into her elderly neighbor's house to find the woman dead.
In the same episode, she also mentions to Booth that her parents were very concerned about her afterward because she started faking her own death. In Season 2, she mentions that during her time in the foster care system, she kept a list of foster homes she had been kicked out of on the bottom of her shoe. She is a licensed hunter she has licenses that allow her to hunt in four unspecified states. She claims that she hunts only for food,  though in the finale of Season 1 , she declares that she has become a vegetarian after discovering how Vince McVicar murdered her mom Christine Brennan with a Spring-Loaded Captive Bolt-Stunner In one episode, The Man in the Morgue , it is said she is trained in three types of martial arts.
In Aliens in a Spaceship, it mentions that Dr. Brennan was currently studying karate. The known list of Brennan's diverse talents is expanded in Double Trouble in the Panhandle , as it is revealed she is a trained amateur highwire performer. Brennan was inspired to be an Anthropologist by the film "The Mummy" as revealed in several episodes, notably in A Night at the Bones Museum. Brennan graduated from Northwestern University.
Brennan reveals to Booth that she speaks six languages. Also of note are Brennan's intimate knowledge and understanding of forensic anthropology and kinesiology, often being compared to the police detective Columbo for her seemingly unintelligent appearance toward suspects, which have given her an aptitude for gaining clues from the body movements of other people The Woman in the Garden , The Truth in the Lye , The Girl with the Curl and contribute toward her martial arts prowess, and she even advises Booth once how to win his fight against another Ultimate Fighting contestant in The Woman in the Sand '.
Brennan once took peyote with Native Americans. In the first season, she hands Booth the file on her parents' disappearance and he agrees to look into it as a personal favor. It is later revealed in Season 2 that her parents, who were bank robbers specializing in safety deposit boxes, changed the family's identity after they stole some damaging FBI documents regarding the murder of an FBI agent and the false imprisonment of civil rights activist Marvin Beckett.
Brennan's birth name was Joy Keenan. Her mother real name Ruth Keenan , known under the assumed identity of Christine Brennan had hoped to someday return to her children and family, but made a tape for Brennan to watch on her 16th birthday in case that never happened. Her father Max Keenan re-entered Brennan's life when she and her brother were being threatened by an old acquaintance, who turned out to be Booth's boss, Deputy Director Kirby.
Max evades capture after killing Kirby and takes Russ into hiding to protect him. Later, Max allows Booth to arrest him in order to improve his relationship with his daughter. At trial, Max is acquitted of murdering Director Kirby due in large part to a defense Booth indirectly came up with, positing an alternate theory of the crime in which Temperance was the killer instead, creating reasonable doubt , and he begins to rebuild his life. He temporarily works at the Jeffersonian as a guide for children visiting the place and demonstrates his brilliant talent as a former science teacher. However, Brennan is concerned about a convicted felon having access to a lab that investigates crimes. Max also introduces Brennan to her cousin Margaret Whitesell.
Brennan and Daisy return from Maluku Islands; they were on an archaeological dig for one year. In the Season 6 episode, "The Blackout in the Blizzard", Brennan mentions her pet iguana for the first time. This same episode shows that one of the number of scientific publications that Brennan reads is Medicinal Physics Quarterly, with one article on electrostatics and triboluminescence proving useful during the lab's power outage. Further concerning her pet iguana in "The Truth in the Myth", as a part of his rehab from alcohol abuse, Vincent Nigel-Murry made apologies for, among other things, having borrowed her iguana one night, wearing him as a hat for a party.
It is revealed at the end of the season six finale "The Change in the Game" that Brennan is pregnant and the father is Booth. Their daughter, Christine Angela Booth named for Brennan's mother and her best friend , was born in a stable during the episode "The Prisoner in the Pipe". Max convinces her to go on the run along with Christine, saying that if she is arrested, even if she is found innocent, she may never see her daughter again. In Season 8 premiere, it is revealed that while on the run, Brennan was communicating with Angela, via flowers, and eventually used this as a way to communicate with Booth.
Despite being on the run, Brennan risks her safety and decides to meet directly with Booth in a hotel room after months of being a single mother. Eventually, they arrest Christopher Pelant, who was the real murderer of Ethan Sawyer, and Brennan is allowed to return to her family. In season 8 finale Brennan proposed to Booth and he said yes. But Pelant blackmails Booth to reject Brennan's proposal by threatening to kill five innocent people if Booth accepted, also warning Booth not to give a reason for his refusal, this threat is removed when the team manages to hunt down and kill Pelant, and Booth and Brennan marry in the Season 9 episode 'The Woman in White' and have a honeymoon in Argentina.
In the Season 10 episode, "The Eye in the Sky", Brennan learns that she is pregnant with her and Booth's second child. Also, Booth suffered a temporary relapse to his old gambling addiction. In the season finale, she and Booth decided to quit their jobs. In the series finale The End in the End after a head injury temporarily impairs her ability to remember how to do her job, Brennan is left with an existential crisis, feeling that without her intelligence, she will lose everything that makes her who she is and uncertain of what she will be without that, but Booth reassures her that she is the woman he loves and his partner no matter what. Later, after going after Mark Kovac, Booth suffered an injury to his hand that rendered him unable to move it.
Brennan was able to interpret what happened to his hand and was able to snap it back into place, restoring the mobility in Booth's hand and proving that she is getting better. Because of her, Booth is later able to kill Mark Kovac by shooting in the head with his handgun. By the following morning, Brennan reveals that her agnosia is almost completely healed, and she would be able to get back to work by the time that the Jeffersonian is restored in six weeks. She is an utmost scientist, surpassed in emotional detachment only by her assistant in first two seasons and later coworker forensic anthropologist Zack Addy.
Most of the time she may seem cold and distant but you learn more about her as the show goes on. Brennan's character develops in the second season where she refers to the rest of the team as "our squints" in Judas on a Pole even though the term "squints" is predominately used by Booth when he describes the team, Brennan included. Despite Bones' extensive knowledge of anthropology, she is quite unaware of pop culture, and her coworkers, particularly Booth, likes to tease her about it.
A running gag on the series is someone making an obvious popular culture reference and she blankly states "I don't know what that means," and she is somewhat excited on the rare occasion that she does understand them; for example, in The Maggots in the Meathead , Bones excitedly explained guidos, GTL Gym Tan Laundry and other "tribal" features of Jersey Shore denizens after mistaking the reality program for a documentary on television. Brennan also displays an exceptionally strong sense of integrity. In A Night at the Bones Museum , Booth comments to Assistant Director Andrew Hacker that one of the things that "makes her Bones" is that she does not feel pressure to do or say anything she does not want to and that no one can force her to.
Bones is very competitive and will show whenever there is competition. In The Diamond in the Rough Booth and Bones enter a dance competition to go undercover to find the murderer. It was stated several times how competitive she was. While Brennan is very good at staying focus on her job she was shown to get drawn into the dance competition a little too much causing her to lose focus. However, she was still able to solve the murder and dance. In this episode, it was stated that she could not dance but she can learn how to dance simply by watching videos and the dancers. Brennan, due to her lack of social skills, insults most people she comes across without realizing it, and she constantly derides religion; she once stated that god was fictional within feet of an elderly priest.
She also insults colleagues by claiming her working environment or field of study are superior to theirs, or that study done in her area of expertise is more likely to result in a cause of death than work done in theirs. An example of this is that in The Salt in the Wounds , Brennan got angry at Camille because she didn't remove the flesh from a corpse so Brennan could examine the bone. The main point of tension was that Brennan honestly believed that Camille couldn't find the cause of death from the corpse, whereas she could from the bones.
When later proved wrong she reluctantly apologized; this is notable as she rarely apologizes. Usually, she either believes she is right or feels that what she says is not insulting. Brennan loves to read and watch documents expanding her knowledge. Some of what may be her favorite thing to learn about are tribes and cultures from other countries or in the past. She will often refer to them and sometimes compare them when out in the field with Booth.
She will often state these facts to her colleges, sometimes the suspectlesses but mostly Booth. Brennan for a long time never really cared about dating or at least not see it as others. She will say mate "He wants to mate with me. Bones will take about sex whenever the subject is brought from casual talk or it has to with an investigation. Since she doesn't seem to know or care when not to say things she will often talk about how a guy wants to have sex.
Brennan has had a number of relatively short relationships, including an ill-fated date with a man who turned out to be a murderer and the re-kindling of a romance with her former thesis supervisor. She has stated that although she does not always feel the need for a committed emotional relationship, she has engaged in casual relationships to "satisfy biological urges". In one episode, she was spending time with two men, one for his intelligence and the other for his sexual skills. In The Plain in the Prodigy , she tells Booth she lost her virginity at the age of 22 and when asked why she waited so long, she said it was because the decision was "important to her". Sweets postulates in a number of episodes that Brennan's apprehension over having relationships is largely due in part to the abandonment and abuse she experienced as a teenager after her parents disappeared.
It is said that she "hides" herself behind a front of hyper-rationalism and she always keeps people at arms' length, except for those closest to her namely FBI partner later husband Seeley Booth and best friend Angela Montenegro. Bones' emotional detachment results in a lack of social skills, so she either has trouble understanding jokes or comments related to male-female relationships, or she just chooses to ignore it. If someone makes a joke and everyone laughs she will not laugh.
It is clear that she is trying to think about why the joke is funny. Most of the time she does figure it out but will explain why it is funny. Sometimes she does find the joke funny and will laugh but this ends up ruining the joke for everyone else. Brennan and the squints will sometimes crack jokes but it is typically about the bones and no one understands the jokes. However, it seems that Booth is the only one who will laugh at her jokes but considering the past season his laugh is genuine. Her portrayer in the television series, Emily Deschanel, commented that "Bones" Brennan "is a lot younger and different" from the Brennan in Kathy Reichs' books.
Deschanel remarked, "Not that there aren't certain similarities, but it's a kind of a mesh. Her scientific approach to life makes her look like a non-loyal and judgmental nasty mockery of religious-based people in life. But in truth, she's actually the total and absolute complete opposite of all of that. Unlike Booth, she has little belief in religion or fate and states that everything can be explained by science, although this view gradually changes later on. Brennan is a self-proclaimed atheist and often points out what she believes to be the irrationality of religious and spiritual beliefs.
This has led to more than one argument with Booth, who is a devout Roman Catholic; he becomes particularly irate when she compares less common religions, such as voodoo, to Christianity. During the Sleepy Hollow crossover episode "Dead Men Tell No Tales", Ichabod Crane notes that Brennan is so skeptical that she dismissed the demon Moloch the primary antagonist in the first two seasons of Sleepy Hollow as nothing more than "a tall man with a skin condition", although this does leave him reassured that she will not realize the nature of the secret tomb they have uncovered underneath the Capitol Building.
Brennan's personality undergoes significant changes throughout the course of the series. Her thinking becomes less rigid in later seasons, something which is observed by Dr. Gordon Wyatt, who notes that she is now able to distinguish the difference between accuracy and truth. In season 4, Booth takes her along to his interrogations and helps her learn how to set aside her scientific perspective and relate with the victim's family and suspects on a more interpersonal level. She is also able to put aside her rationality to support her friends in sometimes irrational pursuits, such as Angela's quest to raise money to save a pig from slaughter, and to comfort Booth, even using science or quoting directly from the Bible to rationalize his religious beliefs.
Her sensitivity and empathy towards others are also much improved, seen quite strongly when she comforts his grandfather, and when she attends a funeral so that the victim's single mother won't be alone. She also displays more "typical" human emotions when in extreme stress. One example of this is her fear of snakes in "The Mummy in the Maze," when a girl is in the process of being scared to death in a room, the floor teeming with snakes. This goes against her empirical nature, as, when Booth tells her that the snakes aren't venomous, she states that she is aware, but still refuses to step in the room, causing Booth to carry her on his back. Usually strong-willed and independent, she has since admitted on multiple occasions that her happiness was contingent on Booth's and could not envision herself living a fulfilled life without him.
Brennan begins to feel both dissatisfaction and discomfort with her work toward the end of the fifth season. She also sees some futility in her work, stating that no matter how many killers they catch, there will always be more. To help her gain new perspective, she later decides to head up an anthropological expedition to Indonesia for a year to identify some ancient proto-human remains, after mulling it over during the episode. However, 7 months later, she and everyone else return to D.
As season 6 progresses, Brennan must confront her feelings for Booth, whom she rejected in the th episode from the previous season. Having returned from 7 months of introspection, she has come to terms with her romantic affection towards him, even admitting that she regretted not having given them a chance together, midway through the season. However, Booth returns from Afghanistan with a new love interest, war correspondent Hannah Burley, whom Brennan befriends. When Hannah rejects Booth's marriage proposal, Brennan must help him through the emotional fallout. In the second to last episode of season 6 Booth and Brennan had sex, consummating their relationship, and it is revealed in the last few moments of the season finale that as a result, Brennan has become pregnant, with Booth the father.
Throughout the episode "The Change in the Game" Brennan has been seen asking Angela questions and making comments that make her seem excited and apprehensive; when she sees that Booth is happy with the news, she also seems overjoyed. This reflects her earlier desire to become a mother, circa season 4, as well as her desire that Booth be the father of the baby. In the Season 8 episode "The Shot in the Dark", Brennan is shot while working in the lab late at night. While undergoing emergency surgery, she experiences a vision of meeting with her deceased mother, Christine Brennan. Initially dismissing this as a hallucination, Brennan experiences several more visions throughout the episode. During these discussions, it's revealed that Brennan's hyper rationalization originates from the very last piece of advice her mother gave to her before going on the run which was to use her brain instead of her heart.
While that advice enabled Brennan to survive all these years, the vision of her mother explains, it's now time for Brennan to do more than just survive. Since entering a relationship with and marrying Booth and then having children, the character has undergone development personally and is shown to be a caring wife and protective mother. She would often put aside her own atheistic views and uses her hyper-rationality to justify Booth's religious beliefs, as shown in season 8 where she references the Bible in order to persuade Booth to forgive his mother and in the season finale where she agrees to a church wedding, rationalizing that she could appreciate the "beauty" of the ceremony and its significance to Booth.
She also showed concern in Season 10 about Booth's change in demeanor following his release from prison and exoneration, noting that he had not attended mass for some time. Brennan cares deeply for her daughter Christine and son Hank, possibly because she does not want to potentially repeat the mistakes of her parents. That said, she occasionally puts pressure on Christine, though she may not always be aware of it. Similarly, she appears to care about her stepson, Parker Booth , just as much and seems to consider him as much her children as Christine and Hank.
She has three doctorates, as referred to by Hodgins in the "The Parts of the Sum in the Whole", in anthropology, forensic anthropology, and kinesiology; it is implied that most of her work at the lab was related to either long-dead bodies of victims of genocide. In the first-season finale which aired on May 17, , Brennan stated that she was born in , which would have made her either 29 or 30 approximately the same age as Deschanel, who was born on October 11, In the fifth-season episode 17 which aired nearly four years later, on April 15, , it is implied that her then-current age was 33 years, based on Brennan's identification of a former classmate from Burtonsville High School presumably located in Burtonsville, Maryland as the victim and statement that the classmate was According to the Burtonsville high school online yearbook entry on Brennan, in her senior year, she was a member of the Chemistry Club and Math club, her interests were chemistry and mathematics, and she was a National Merit Scholar and an Academic All-Star.
She claims that she hunts only for food,  though in the finale of Season 1 , she declares that she has become a vegetarian after discovering how Vince McVicar murdered her mom Christine Brennan with a Spring-Loaded Captive Bolt-Stunner In one episode, The Man in the Morgue , it is said she is trained in three types of martial arts. Her older brother Russ, himself still an adolescent, was unable to care for her and she was put in the foster care system. This could be one of the reasons for to lack of social skills. Which could be another reason why she threw herself into books. In Mayhem on a Cross , a specific instance about Dr. Brennan's turbulent time in the foster care system is revealed. She was locked in a trunk for two days for breaking a dish. According to Brennan, she was warned of the consequences in advance.
However, the water was simply too hot to safely use and the soap slippery and thus the dish was dropped. When Brennan reveals this information to Dr. Forensic anthropology is the application of the anatomical science of anthropology and its various subfields, including forensic archaeology and forensic taphonomy ,  in a legal setting. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable, as might happen in a plane crash. Forensic anthropologists are also instrumental in the investigation and documentation of genocide and mass graves.
Along with forensic pathologists , forensic dentists , and homicide investigators, forensic anthropologists commonly testify in court as expert witnesses. Using physical markers present on a skeleton, a forensic anthropologist can potentially determine a person's age, sex , stature , and race. This is useful in identifying living individuals for legal purposes such as illegal immigrants.
This is extremely important in legal cases where the court needs to decide if they will judge an individual as an adult or a minor. In addition to identifying physical characteristics of the individual, forensic anthropologists can use skeletal abnormalities to potentially determine cause of death , past trauma such as broken bones or medical procedures, as well as diseases such as bone cancer.
The methods used to identify a person from a skeleton relies on the past contributions of various anthropologists and the study of human skeletal differences. Through the collection of thousands of specimens and the analysis of differences within a population, estimations can be made based on physical characteristics. Through these, a set of remains can potentially be identified. The field of forensic anthropology grew during the twentieth century into a fully recognized forensic specialty involving trained anthropologists as well as numerous research institutions gathering data on decomposition and the effects it can have on the skeleton.
Today, forensic anthropology is a well-established discipline within the forensic field. Anthropologists are called upon to investigate remains and to help identify individuals from bones when other physical characteristics that could be used to identify a body no longer exist. Forensic anthropologists work in conjunction with forensic pathologists to identify remains based on their skeletal characteristics. If the victim is not found for a lengthy period or has been eaten by scavengers , flesh markers used for identification would be destroyed, making normal identification difficult if not impossible. In addition to these duties, forensic anthropologists often assist in the investigation of war crimes and mass fatality investigations.
War crimes anthropologists have helped investigate include the Rwandan genocide  and the Srebrenica Genocide. The use of anthropology in the forensic investigation of remains grew out of the recognition of anthropology as a distinct scientific discipline and the growth of physical anthropology. The field of anthropology began in the United States and struggled to obtain recognition as a legitimate science during the early years of the twentieth century. Hooton's students created some of the first doctoral programs in physical anthropology during the early 20th century. The use of criminal anthropology to try to explain certain criminal behaviors arose out of the eugenics movement, popular at the time.
The study of this information helped shape anthropologists' understanding of the human skeleton and the multiple skeletal differences that can occur. Another prominent early anthropologist, Thomas Wingate Todd , was primarily responsible for the creation of the first large collection of human skeletons in In total, Todd acquired 3, human skulls and skeletons, anthropoid skulls and skeletons, and 3, mammalian skulls and skeletons.
Todd also developed age estimates based on physical characteristics of the pubic symphysis. Though the standards have been updated, these estimates are still used by forensic anthropologists to narrow down an age range of skeletonized remains. Krogman , that forensic anthropology gained recognition as a legitimate subdiscipline. During the s, Krogman was the first anthropologist to actively publicize anthropologists' potential forensic value, going as far as placing advertisements in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin informing agencies of the ability of anthropologists to assist in the identification of skeletal remains.
This period saw the first official use of anthropologists by federal agencies including the FBI. During the s, the U. Army Quartermaster Corps employed forensic anthropologists in the identification of war casualties during the Korean War. The sudden influx of available skeletons for anthropologists to study, whose identities were eventually confirmed, allowed for the creation of more accurate formulas for the identification of sex, age,  and stature  based solely on skeletal characteristics. These formulas, developed in the s and refined by war, are still in use by modern forensic anthropologists.
The professionalization of the field began soon after, during the s and s. This move coincided with the replacement of coroners with medical examiners in many locations around the country. One of the major cases of the era involved anthropologist Charles Merbs who helped identify the victims murdered by Ed Gein. One of the main tools forensic anthropologists use in the identification of remains is their knowledge of osteology and the differences that occur within the human skeleton. During an investigation, anthropologists are often tasked with helping to determinate an individual's sex, stature, age, and ancestry. To do this, anthropologists must be aware of how the human skeleton can differ between individuals.
Depending on which bones are present, sex can be determined by looking for distinctive sexual dimorphisms. When available, the pelvis is extremely useful in the determination of sex and when properly examined can achieve sex determination with a great level of accuracy. However, the pelvis is not always present, so forensic anthropologists must be aware of other areas on the skeleton that have distinct characteristics between sexes.
The skull also contains multiple markers that can be used to determine sex. Specific markers on the skull include the temporal line , the eye sockets , the supraorbital ridge ,  as well as the nuchal lines , and the mastoid process. Forensic anthropologists need to take into account all available markers in the determination of sex due to the differences that can occur between individuals of the same sex. For example, a female may have a slightly more narrow than a normal pubic arch. It is for this reason that anthropologists usually classify sex as one of five possibilities: male, maybe male, indeterminate, maybe female, or female.
The sexual dimorphisms present in the skeleton begin to occur during puberty and are not fully pronounced until after sexual maturation. Consequently, there is currently no reliable method of sex determination of juvenile remains from cranial or post-cranial skeletal elements since dimorphic traits only become apparent after puberty, and this represents a fundamental problem in archaeological and forensic investigations. However, teeth may assist in estimating sex since both sets of teeth are formed well before puberty. Sexual dimorphism has been observed in both deciduous and permanent dentition, although it is much less in deciduous teeth.
Such differences in dental tissue proportions could also be useful in sex determination. The estimation of stature by anthropologists is based on a series of formulas that have been developed over time by the examination of multiple different skeletons from a multitude of different regions and backgrounds. Stature is given as a range of possible values, in centimeters, and typically computed by measuring the bones of the leg. The three bones that are used are the femur , the tibia , and the fibula. Sex, ancestry, and age should be determined before attempting to ascertain height, if possible. This is due to the differences that occur between populations, sexes, and age groups.
For example, a male formula for stature estimation using the femur is 2. A female of the same ancestry would use the formula, 2. This is due to the shrinkage of the skeleton that naturally occurs as a person ages. After age 30, a person loses approximately one centimeter of their height every decade. The determination of an individual's age by anthropologists depends on whether or not the individual was an adult or a child.
The determination of the age of children, under the age of 21, is usually performed by examining the teeth. The tibia plate seals around age 16 or 17 in girls and around 18 or 19 in boys. The clavicle is the last bone to complete growth and the plate is sealed around age While adults have bones, the bones of a child have not yet fused resulting in a much higher number. The aging of adult skeletons is not as straightforward as aging a child's skeleton as the skeleton changes little once adulthood is reached. New osteons are constantly formed by bone marrow even after the bones stop growing. Younger adults have fewer and larger osteons while older adults have smaller and more osteon fragments.
Arthritis will cause noticeable rounding of the bones. The determination of an individual's ancestry is typically grouped into three historical groups, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. However, the use of these classifications is becoming much harder as the rate of interancestrial marriages increases and markers become less defined. Typically, the maxilla is used to help anthropologists determine an individual's ancestry due to the three basic shapes, hyperbolic, parabolic, and rounded, belonging to the three historical ancestries, Negroid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid respectively.
Determination of ancestry is incredibly controversial but often needed for police investigations to narrow down subject pool. Anthropologists are also able to see other markers present on the bones. Past fractures will be evident by the presence of bone remodeling but only for a certain amount of time. After around seven years, bone remodelling should make the presence of a fracture impossible to see. The examination of any fractures on the bones can potentially help determine the type of trauma they may have experienced.
Cause of death is not determined by the forensic anthropologist, as they are not qualified to do so. However, they are able to determine the type of trauma experienced such as gun shot wound, blunt force, sharp force, or a mixture thereof. It is also possible to determine if a fracture occurred ante-mortem before death , peri-mortem at the time of death , or post-mortem after death. Ante-mortem fractures will show signs of healing depending on how long before death the fracture occurred while peri- and post-mortem fractures will not.
Peri-mortem fractures can incorporate quite a large range of time, as ante-mortem trauma that is unrelated directly to death may not have had time to begin the healing process. Peri-mortem fractures will usually appear clean with rounded margins and equal discolouration after death, while post-mortem breaks will appear brittle. However, depending on how long there is between a post-mortem break and removal this may not be obvious i. Diseases such as bone cancer might be present in bone marrow samples and can help narrow down the list of possible identifications. The term "forensic archaeology" is not defined uniformly around the world, and is therefore practiced in a variety of ways.
Forensic archaeologists employ their knowledge of proper excavation techniques to ensure that remains are recovered in a controlled and forensically acceptable manner. The difference between forensic archaeologists and forensic anthropologists is that where forensic anthropologists are trained specifically in human osteology and recovery of human remains, forensic archaeologists specialize more broadly in the processes of search and discovery. These objects can include anything from wedding rings to potentially probative evidence such as cigarette butts or shoe prints. For example, one particular case study was conducted on the search and recovery of the remains of a missing girl who was found in a septic tank underground.
This instance required unique methods unlike those of a typical archeological excavation in order to exhume and preserve the contents of the tank. Forensic archaeologists are involved within three main areas. Processing scenes of mass fatality or incidents of terrorism i. Forensic archaeologists can help determine potential grave sites that might have been overlooked. Differences in the soil can help forensic archaeologists locate these sites. During the burial of a body, a small mound of soil will form from the filling of the grave. The loose soil and increasing nutrients from the decomposing body encourages different kinds of plant growth than surrounding areas. Typically, grave sites will have looser, darker, more organic soil than areas around it.
One other implement to the career of a forensic archaeologist is teaching and research. Educating law enforcement, crime scene technicians and investigators, as well as undergraduate and graduate students is a critical part of a forensic archaeologist's career in order to spread knowledge of proper excavation techniques to other forensic personnel and to increase awareness of the field in general.
Crime scene evidence in the past has been compromised due to improper excavation and recovery by untrained personnel. Forensic anthropologists are then unable to provide meaningful analyses on retrieved skeletal remains due to damage or contamination. There is an ethical component that must be considered. The capability to uncover information about victims of war crimes or homicide may present a conflict in cases that involve competing interests. Forensic archaeologists are often contracted to assist with the processing of mass graves by larger organisations that have motives related to exposure and prosecution rather than providing peace of mind to families and communities. These projects are at times opposed by smaller, human rights groups who wish to avoid overshadowing memories of the individuals with their violent manner s of death.
In cases like these, forensic archaeologists must practice caution and recognize the implications behind their work and the information they uncover. The examination of skeletal remains often takes into account environmental factors that affect decomposition. Forensic taphonomy is the study of these postmortem changes to human remains caused by soil, water, and the interaction with plants, insects, and other animals.
Students and faculty study various environmental effects on the decomposition of donated cadavers. At these locations, cadavers are placed in various situations and their rate of decomposition along with any other factors related to the decomposition process are studied. Potential research projects can include whether black plastic causes decomposition to occur faster than clear plastic or the effects freezing can have on a dumped body.
Forensic taphonomy is divided into two separate sections, biotaphonomy and geotaphonomy. Biotaphonomy is the study of how the environment affects the decomposition of the body. Specifically it is the examination of biological remains in order to ascertain how decomposition or destruction occurred. Biotaphonomy must also take into account common mortuary services such as embalming and their effects on decomposition. Geotaphonomy is the examination of how the decomposition of the body affects the environment.
Geotaphonomy examinations can include how the soil was disturbed, pH alteration of the surrounding area, and either the acceleration or deceleration of plant growth around the body. This can potentially help determine the time since death, whether or not trauma on the skeleton was a result of perimortem or postmortem activity, as well as if scattered remains were the result of scavengers or a deliberate attempt to conceal the remains by an assailant. Individuals looking to become forensic anthropologists first obtain a bachelor's degree in anthropology from an accredited university. During their studies they should focus on physical anthropology as well as osteology. In addition it is recommended that individuals take courses in a wide range of sciences such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, and genetics.
Once undergraduate education is completed the individual should proceed to graduate level courses. Typically, forensic anthropologists obtain doctorates in physical anthropology and have completed coursework in osteology, forensics, and archaeology. It is also recommended that individuals looking to pursue a forensic anthropology profession get experience in dissection usually through a gross anatomy class as well as useful internships with investigative agencies or practicing anthropologists.
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