Forensics Daily #3

Q: what do we do with unknown or unidentified remains from the morgue, or those excavated from exhumation?
A: we clean them by a process called maceration. When forensic anthropologists come into the scene,these remains are most likely in advanced decomposition stage (usually most of the soft tissues are gone), we need to clean the remaining attached soft tissues before doing examination or identification. This process is called maceration (which is no different than the maceration we know in food preparation- sorry if I just ruined your meals :(. #sorrynotsorry ) anyways, these usually can be done by either having forensic anthropologists handpick the attached tissues with tweezers or other tools. They have to be careful that the tools may leave marks on the bones. They have to remove as many soft tissues as they can during this process. This process usually starts by dismembering the remains. Or, we can ask our lovely bugs friends- beetles for help by inviting them to this feast. They will usually focus on the tissues only without damaging the bones. After all of these are done, bones are being boiled in a big pot filled with detergent like bleach, soap and water. Cook the bones for a while, and drained it. In research institutes or in morgues, these cleaned bones will be stored in a long shoe box for storage until someone can give them a positive identification, or reclaim them.

Last thought: can u imagine we all can reduce into a size of a shoe box only at the end of the day? Sighhh…

Forensics Daily

Q: can you tell where a person comes from by a single tooth?
A: yes, and that’s the isotope analysis we are talking about. Everything in our daily life has varies amount of elements, such as oxygen deposited in it. These isotopes are usually collected by our bones and enamel(the hardest inorganic substance of the outermost layer of a tooth). These collected isotopes are formed in stages of life. For children, the enamel formed will not change for the first few years, which provides a safe storage of isotopes. The most favorite geological isotope analysis is by using the variation of strontium levels in the environment. In other words, if the strontium isotope collected from the enamel matches a specific isotope rating/reading from a geological area, it is more likely the person( the owner of the tooth) spent some time in that area.Likewise, the humidity of an area will also affect the level of oxygen isotope. This may also give us some clues on the atmospheric condition of the person lives/lived in. Other than location, it is also possible to collect info about diets, may be lifestyle too!

Read more: http://archive.archaeology.org/0705/abstracts/isotopes.html