We’ve all seen Bones or a similar moment in a crime drama when a skeletal corpse is uncovered in someone’s basement or backyard. Then someone comes in, examines the bones and can instantly say where they were from, when the person in question died, and how they died.
That person is a forensic anthropologist, and they are the ones who test old bones to figure out how they connect to a certain case that the FBI is investigating. These people recover bones from crime scenes, take them to a lab, and then use medical records, x-rays, and other forms of technology to provide identification.
More than looking at bones
Forensic anthropologists are highly regarded by law enforcement and some are even called to testify in court about their findings if they relate to a particular case. They also have a wide range of skills, since they have to work with X-rays, law enforcement, and the equipment needed to identify bones.
The bones are examined to see what exactly killed the victim. As well as anything that happened after death, such as if the victim was placed in water or if the victim’s corpse was mauled by a wild animal. The bones are also examined and any identifying features are pulled to see if the victim can be identified.
These features can include recent injuries to the bones or other abnormal features that can paint a picture of the victim’s life. Implants in the bone can indicate treatment for an injury that was gained in the military or during sports play.
Using the anthropology skill
Once the portrait of who this person was is created, then the bones can be studied to see what killed the victim. Since most bones found by anthropologists are often very old and have suffered wear and tear, a deep study of bones as well as things that can cause injury to them is required.
For example, natural things that can happen to bones with time such as erosion, being hit with something such as a falling rock, or having the bones be chewed upon by animals can easily be mistaken for wounds from a knife or a blunt object that can disguise the true cause of death.
In addition, when bones are disguised in an area covered in rocks or other debris, Forensic Anthropologists can pick out the bones and ensure the evidence isn’t mistakenly discarded or thrown away in order to give justice to the victim.
Forensic anthropologists are often the best way for a long-dead skeleton to get justice and discover who or what killed it. Without these forensic scientists that most people don’t know too much about, a lot of knowledge on cold cases that could be lost is instead gained.
Then criminals and murderers who thought that they had gotten away with the crime instead find the past coming back to bite them, and people who didn’t get justice in life can then find it in death.