Forensic anthropology

Forensic anthropology

Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology and human osteology in a legal setting, most often in criminal cases where the victim's remains are in the advanced stages of decomposition. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable. The adjective "forensic" refers to the application of this subfield of science to a court of law. Forensic anthropological techniques can be used in the recovery and analysis of human remains. A forensic analysis assesses the age, sex , stature, ancestry, and evidence for an estimate of the predominant geographical ancestry of the individual, as well as determine if the individual was affected by accidental or violent trauma or disease prior to or at the time of death. Forensic anthropologists frequently work in conjunction with forensic pathologists, odontologists, and homicide investigators to identify a decedent, discover evidence of trauma, and determine the postmortem interval. Though they typically lack the legal authority to declare the official cause of death, which is the job of forensic pathologists, their opinion are taken into consideration by the medical examiner. They may also testify in court as expert witnesses. Data from some infrequently used techniques, such as forensic facial reconstruction, are inadmissible as forensic evidence in the United States.[1] [edit]In the United States Physical anthropology is one of the divisions of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Two of the most important research collections of human skeletal remains in the U.S. are the Hamann-Todd Collection, housed in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Terry Collection, housed in the Smithsonian Institution. These collections are an important historic basis for the statistical analysis necessary to make estimates and predictions from found remains. More modern collections include the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. [edit]Practitioners There are few people who identify themselves as forensic anthropologists, and in the United States and Canada, there are fewer than 100 anthropologists certified as diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (DABFA).[2] Most diplomates work in the academic field and consult on casework as it arises.