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ANT205 - Oct 24 (Forensic Taphonomy).docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Carolan Wood

- Definitions, matching, mostly short answers on the TEST Forensic Taphonomy - Forensic taphonomy o Post mortem (PM)changes to bone o What happened to body between time of death and the time of discovery o Peri mortem means around the time of death o Ante mortem means before death - Why study taphonomy? o Position, colour, weathering, erosion o Consistent with  Where and how the body is found  Tip or testimony  What was done to body o Was there intent to destroy the body? Manner of death? o Movement of body  Animal, human, gravity, H2O o Elapsed time since death = post-mortem interval o Evidence  Altered, added to, lost o Peri trauma vs. PM damage o Forensic significance - Case 97-02 o Informant claims suspect tried to burn body o Bone is fire damaged o Consistent with tip?  Yes, because of the charred uneven parts o Informant claims  Suspect tried to destroy body  Used stick to stir and breakup body parts o Bone is broken and fragmentary o Taphonomic changes are consistent - Case 98-02 o Defense claims defendant didn’t kill victim  He moved body only o Trauma caused by dragging victim behind pickup truck on gravel road? o No erosion of bone on back of skull, no gravel pitting or embedded gravel  No road rash o Taphonomic changes are not consistent with defendant’s claims - Traditional archaeological taphonomy o Disarticulation sequences  Loss of tissue o Animal scavenging o Animal scatter o Environmental transport o Weathering/discolouration o Survivability of skeletal elements - Disarticulation sequences o Least stable  most stable joints  Joint type, amount and type of tissue  Ball and socket (hip)  Hinge (knee)  Ligament are fibrous so stay together longer o Normal decomposition  Bacterial and enzymatic action - Typical sequence o Skull and atlas separate from vertebrae o Ribs loosen, chest collapses o Limbs disarticulate o Jaw from skull o Overlapping these stages  Vertebral column disarticulates  Weathering begins before vertebrae separates - Variation in sequence o Insect activity will speed up removal of tissue (warm and humid conditions)  Enter body through natural openings or unnatural (gunshot wounds) o Sedimentation and burial = fix position (slow down decay of body) o Water o Animal scavenging o Human intervention - Scavenging and scatter o Animal activity  Gnawing, digging, clawing o Carnivores  Punctures, channelling (chew with back teeth to make grooves and channels), marrow coning (chew the ends off because there’s yummy marrow where blood production are)  Chew condyles, hands, epiphyses  Scalloped edges (chewing and turning) - Rodent act
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