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Lecture 5

ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Homicide, Dentures, Paleopathology

Course Code
Andrew Wade

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Lecture 5
Process of Decomposition :
- Breakdown+destruction of organic tissues
- Autolysis- break down of body tissues by body fluids
- Putrefaction- bacteria reproduce and start to consume tissue, muscles, etc.
- Skin slippage, early sign of decomposition.
Factors affecting Decomposition:
-Access by insects (wearing clothes?)
-Burial and depth of burial( immersion in water?)
- 8x slower if buried
- 2x longer if in water
-carnivore and rodent activity (wolves, dogs)
-trauma, exposing tissues allow access by bacteria+insects
-clothing, protects body from sun therefore less likely to dry out
Process of preservation:
affected by:
-certain soils (volcanic ash)
- chemical conditions (peat bogs: soft tissues tanned-like leather
-climate conditions (desert, arctic)
-fossilization (imprint)
Forensic Anthropologist:
-PhD in Bio. Anthro.
-Do a bio. Profile
-Research, recover, analysis
-Postmortem damage (after death)
-DOES NOT: make final decision of cause (med. Circumstances like heart attack) or
manner of death (legal circumstances like homicide, natural, suicide, accident,
undetermined), perform autopsies
CSI Effect:
-Jurors familiar with CSI and Law&Order, therefore miss judge, results in thrown out cases
10 Key Questions Anthropologists Ask:
1. Is it a bone?
-usually don’t have complete skeleton b/c damage
2. Is it human?
-human and deer vertebrae similar in size and appearance
dog and child femur similar in appearance and size ( but child femur not
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