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Forensic Anthropology. Forensic Anthropology. Role of the Forensic Anthropologist:. Recover Human Remains. Identify Human Remains. Determine Time or Cause of Death. Forensic Anthropology. Education:. Most forensic anthropologists are specialists in physical anthropology.

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Forensic Anthropology

Role of the Forensic Anthropologist:

  • Recover Human Remains
  • Identify Human Remains
  • Determine Time or Cause of Death

Forensic Anthropology


  • Most forensic anthropologists are specialists in physical anthropology.
  • Work in universities or museums
  • Certification available from the American Board of Forensic Anthropology

Forensic Anthropology

Recovering Human Remains


Forensic Anthropology > Recovering Remains

Locating Human Remains

  • Cadaver dogs
  • Remote sensing methods

Forensic Anthropology > Recovering Remains

Anthropologists can help:

  • Find small bones or bone fragments
  • Recover clothing and trace materials associated with bones
  • Prevent damage of bones
  • Map the location of bones and maintain chain of custody

Forensic Anthropology

Identifying the remains

Age - look at bone length and bone fusion

Sex - differences in pelvis, skull, femur

Stature - size of bones

Ancestry - teeth, skull


Forensic Anthropology

Identifying the remains

Individuality may be determined:

  • from surgical procedures
  • from broken bones

Forensic Anthropology

Determining Time of Death

  • Anthropologist helpful if soft tissues have decomposed.
  • If soft tissue is present, identification can be done by the pathologist.

Forensic Anthropology

Determining Cause of Death

  • Sharp force trauma (bone cut)
  • Blunt force trauma (broken bone)
  • Antemortem vs. postmortem breaks

Forensic Anthropology

Final Report Should Include:

  • Taphonomy (time of death)
  • Biological profile (age, sex, stature, race)
  • Individual characteristics
  • Evidence of possible cause of death

Forensic Anthropology > Web Links