When it comes to bones, forensic anthropologists need to know a lot about whatever skeleton is in front of them. Everything from the coloration of the bones, to the slightest chip or damage against them, is a clue on how the person who owned them had passed.

Still, not every clue can be seen with the naked eye, and various other fields are brought in to ensure every potential aspect is covered. Photography, x-rays, measurements, and even the weight of the bones can add to the mystery and reveal potential clues.

To use these methods of investigation, various tools are used by Forensic Anthropologists to get deep and accurate looks at bones and take precise measurements.

 

Measuring tools

The first and most common measuring tool is a caliper, which is a pair of pincers connected to a ruler. A piece of bone or teeth can be put between the two pincers and then the bone can be held in place and then measured. It’s not unlike the height scales in a doctor’s office that slide up and down to get an accurate height.

Other times, tools such as an osteometric board can be used for long bones that might not fit on the scale and it works the same way, where the bone is laid down lengthwise and then measured against a ruler.

Both of these tools help forensic anthropologists discover the height of a person, and is especially valuable when the bones are found separately from the rest of the body.

A 3-D Digitizer can also record and measure oddly shaped bones such the skull, and then create 3-D models of the bone. These skull measurements can then be used to determine the gender of the body and can also be matched against specific samples of other bones to figure out when in time it died.

Zooming into dem bones

Certain microscopes such as a stereozoom microscope allow forensic anthropologists to get closer to the bone and investigate any scars or damage. The damage can either signify a weapon blow or damage from a fall or can signify postmortem damage such as damage from animals or erosion.

The teeth of the victim can also be zoomed into to see the diet, any damage, and the food preparation of the culture the body was a part of.

Then the damage can be analyzed and the victim’s life can be put together, to determine how he lived, died, and anything that might have happened after death.

Other tools can even look inside the bones with CT and X-ray scans, and discover even more information about the bones’ owners and even what might have killed them.

 

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With skilled hands, the story can be told

All these tools require education and understanding to use, but in the hands of a skilled forensic anthropologist, they can truly provide the most important answers when it comes to asking serious questions about a corpse. Then hopefully those answers can lead to a satisfying conclusion and a benefit of knowledge for all involved.