Ms. Leyda-Gabrielino High School     

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The Mystery of the Bones

  • Understand what a forensic anthropologist does and how they do it 
  • Determine the identities of 4 "unknown" victims found at a crime scene

Section 1 - Research and Background 

As a group, visit the following sites to gain an understanding of forensic anthropology and what bones (or remains) can tell you about the deceased. Write all answers on a separate page, you can turn in a single page for your entire group.

Investigative Techniques of Forensic Anthropology Muse over the skeleton to answer these.. 

1. What can the teeth tell you about the deceased?
2. How can the skull be used to determine age?
3. How is the pelvis of a female different from the pelvis of a male?
4. The hand bones can help you determine what about the deceased?

Explore Forensics - most can be found at the link: Analyzing the body

1. What are some of the distinguishing characteristics between a male and female skeleton?
2. Why might a corpse be exhumed?
3. What insect is used to determine time of death? What type of scientist studies these insects?

4. Where is the most accurate place to take the body temperature? Suppose a body is found and its temperature is recorded at 34 degrees celcius, how long has the body been dead?
5. What is rigormortis and how long does it last?
6. What is lividity?
7. What are the four categories of death?

8. How are eyes used to tell the age of a victim?

Written in Bone - Exhibit at the Smithsonian

Skeleton Keys --> Bone Basics

1. What is the last bone to complete its growth?
2. How are teeth used to estimate age?
3. What is bone "remodeling" and how can it be used to determine age?
4. What is the sciatic notch? How can it be used to determine gender? 

Skeleton Keys --> Today's Bones 

1. What happens to the bones of people who are overweight? How much did the skeleton of the 600lb man weigh? What does the average skeleton weigh?

Unearthing the 17th Century Chesapeake --> Difficult Lives

1. What are three pieces of skeletal evidence that reveal the heavy physical labor and strain placed on the bodies of the early colonials?

2. What effect did smoking a pipe have on people's teeth?

Unearthing the 17th Century Chesapeake --> Living and Dying in America

1. What was the danger of completely swaddling babies?

2. What surgical marks did they find in a skull fragment?

3. What did high levels of lead content in bones mean in the 17th century? And why were they so high?

4. How did syphilis affect bones?

5. Why were there so many cases of tooth decay? Why did whitening cause such damage?

 Browse the Forensic case files and choose one that interests you. Describe the case and key evidence used to solve it. 

Section 2: The Crime Scene

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