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Lecture

Anthro Notes

5 Pages
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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
Anthropology 2235A/B
Professor
Eldon Molto

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Anthro NotesNov 112 Apart from determining the biological and personal identity of remains the forensic anthropologist is increasingly being asked to render an opinion on the circumstances of death and the decay process with the analysis of traumatic defects of the skeleton falling within their purview Trauma analysis was one of the major internal developments that Dirkmatt et al noted in forensic anthropology Conducting research on ancient skeletal populations provides significant experience with trauma analysis since trauma is one of the more common pathologies encountered in past populations However ancient populations did not use guns so that type of trauma training is strictly of a forensic nature The role of the anthropologist in trauma analysis The anthropologist does not determine the cause or manner of death as this is a medical opinion The expertise of the anthropologist may contribute to the interpretation of the evidence and determination of the manner of death and the circumstances surrounding crime scene primary evidence The reasons for a change of thinking for trauma analysis being the domain of pathologists 1 Morgue research by forensic anthropologists 2 Incorporation of bone biomechanics research is drawn from a variety of disciplines in conjunction with microscopy analysis 3 The rise of forensic taphonomy Morgue research In the early 1980s some progressiveminded forensic pathologists hired forensic anthropologists to assist in documenting decomposition identifying isolated bones and serving as death investigators They were part of the interdisciplinary death investigation team They realized that anthropologists have a contribution to trauma analysis of skeletal remains that served to highlight the limitations of clinical traumatology which focuses on soft tissues Forensic pathologists were limited in their ability to address certain forensic questions relating to bone trauma such as those related to fracture timing Incorporating bone biomechanical and taphonomy research After death the biochemical composition of bone changes with time especially in terms of the amount and preservation of organic matrix Reduction in elasticity of bone going from a fresh to a dried state results in different fracture patterns The consideration of biomechanical changes transfers the analysis from clinical traumatology to vertebrate taphonomy Anthropologists help to decipher the changes in the ante peri and post mortem characteristics of trauma Sometimes careful taphonomic interpretations can help clarify circumstances surrounding death and the postmortem interval The biomechanical approach also affects trauma classification shifting category criteria from the inflicting tool to physical factors such as force and speed This can involve detailed and meticulous microscopic examinations of minute evidentiary details and new approaches to photodocumentation New dimension in trauma analysis Involves blunt force trauma ballistic trauma sharp force trauma and childelderly abuseCause mechanism and mode of death Cause of death is any injury or disease that produces a physiological derangement in the body that causes cessation of bodily functions ex gunshot wound to the head stab wound of the chest Mechanism of death is the physiological derangement produced by the cause of death that results in death ex hemorrhage septicemia cardiac arrhythmia A particular mechanism can be caused by multiple causesfor example a hemorrhage can be produced by a gunshot wound a stab wound or a malignant tumour Manner of death explains how the cause of death came about natural homicide accident indeterminant A cause of death can have many manners Since the anthropologist mostly deals with bones these decisions rest with the coroner but anthropological opinions are an integral part of the investigation
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