Topic // The Biological Profile
True & False
A&E Video Info:
• the video is based on a homicide in 1953, “babes in the woods”
skeleton remains of two children found in the woods.
• The children were believed to be a boy and a girl around the
ages 6 to 10
• A lunch box, a hatchet and an aviator’s case were found
• Teeth are a good source of DNA because of the enamel on the
Biological Profiles usually begin with sex determination, age, ancestry
and stature and these are usually one of the 1 steps in identifying a
person. Remember that in CANADA there is no central database of DNA
profiles. Biological profiles often guide an investigation so being
cautious is important. If ambiguous results are present based on a part
of a biological profile like sex determiniation – SAY SO!
When determining sex if the results are unclear you must claim that
they are INDETERMINATE
Provide A large Range of Age
• the estimated range MUST include the actual age of a person
• coroners and the police like restricted age ranges to help narrow
Why is Ancestry Problematic?
• A skeletal assessment of ancestry is completed and looked at
• when looking at ancestry you are looking at a compilation of
• i.e – the nose, the skull shape etc
• This can often be difficult because you are trying to interpret
something in sociocultural terms • The Canadian Police Information Centre simplifies ancestry but
white or non-white
What are the limiations of Stature?
• the reported stature is often based on an estimate
• stature calculations are often estimates with large standard
How do Forensic Anthropologists Deal with standard errors?
• F.A’s must be familiar with a range of human variation
• A lot of experience is required
• Skeletal collections help
• Identifying modern populations is a plus
• F.A’s must be familiar with different levels of variations such as:
- personal ID
- sexual dimorphism
- age within a population or a between populations like from
region to region
- growth and development with respects to size
Knowing the SEX is important and vital before doing an estimation of
SEX vs GENDER
Sex refers to the mechanisms and processes involved in reproduction.
This is determined at a chromosomal level and mediated at a hormonal
Gender is defined as basic characteristics and behavior roles identified
by any group as being APPROPRIATE for a particular sex. It’s the social
rules that a culture chooses for you.
You can determine sex via cultural items like clothing or a purse but
these things can be faked or misleading such as and in cases with
cross dressers. Looking at temporary traits like activity or cultural
behavior specific to a time and place of an individual. i.e – Chinese foot
binding. Remember that even permanent traits will be cross cultural
Sexual Dimorphism • Differential rates of growth apply to men and women from their
size to robusticity.
• The period of growth is shorter for females than it is for males
• Differences for females and males begin at puberty
• during this period of time males have a greater rate growth and
a longer period of growth.
• Males growth completes at 18 to 21 where in females at 16 to 18
years of age
• This is due to the fact that males are generally larger and have
What are possible definitions of ROBUSTICITY?
• this can refer to the index of width or the circumference to
• this can also refer to the prominence of muscle markings
• the cortical thickness of a bone
• Bone weight
• The combination of the above -
Traits of Robusticity
• robusticity is population specific
• robusticity varies from population to population
Determining Sex in skeleton