Forensic anthropology is a special sub-field of physical anthropology (the study of human remains). It involves applying skills and techniques used in archaeology to solving criminal cases. Forensic anthropologists are experts in their field. They are experts is osteology which is the study of bones. If you’ve ever watched the TV show, Bones, you have an idea of what a forensic anthropologist is involved in. TV can make it look quite glamorous. It is hard to find glamour in the often sad, bittersweet job of examining human remains made up of only a jumble of bones. For loved ones who have waited years to discover what happened to relatives, a forensic anthropologist demands respect. The forensic anthropologist, or bone detective, has unique job skills that demand respect. Click To Tweet
They look at only badly decomposed human remains or human bone to decide how a person died. It is amazing they can do this and keep down their lunch. Often a horribly smelly job, forensic anthropology is not for the faint-hearted.
At a crime scene where badly decomposed remains are found, they are the investigators best friend. The anthropologists do the dirty, smelly work and they are masters at solving puzzles. An anthropologist can put together a mass of disjointed bones into a recognizable skeleton.
6 Reasons a Forensic Anthropologist Demands Respect
- They must understand how the legal system works as they are often called in to court as expert witnesses.
- The FBI employs Forensic Anthropologists who are given access to cool, advanced technologies and equipment but no guns or badges only labs and calipers. But hey, working for the FBI would be a cool job anyway!
- They can help decide victim identity and how they died as bones give clues about the person’s age at death, sex, height, type of occupation and overall heath at the time of death.
- Forensic anthropologists decide if bone damage was caused at death or months prior to death.
- A forensic anthropologist can’t legally comment on the cause of death – only a coroner can do that – although speculation is part of the job. The anthropologist can comment legally on when injuries likely occurred which allows the coroner to do his job
- They may work with forensic facial reconstructionists. They help to create a face from a skull by providing interpretations of skeletal features including the subject’s age, sex and ancestry. Anthropologists can also give anatomical details like facial asymmetry and injuries like a broken nose.
6 More Reasons a Forensic Anthropologist Demands Respect
- Almost always, anthropologists boil the bones to remove any remaining flesh or connective tissue. In this way, important features are clearly seen – and yes again, the smell is horrible.
- While studying, they spend time at a body farm like the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility.
- They identify human remains after mass disasters such earthquakes, tsunamis and the 911 Manhattan terrorist attack.
- Anthropologists identify the remains of US soldiers from any war. They are called upon by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to perform this important job.
Forensic anthropologists are important to our legal system. They are responsible for giving closure to thousands of people. Many of them have lost love ones to tragedies from murder, war and accidents. Without their unique skills, many victims would remain unidentified. They are truly demanding of respect.