How is Forensic Taphonomy Useful in Investigations?

Forensic taphonomy is the post-mortem transformations or changes that occur in the dead remains of a corpse since the death and its discovery. The word Taphonomy is derived from the Greek words- ‘taphos’ which means “burial“, and ‘nomos’ which means ‘law“. The term taphonomy was first defined by Russian geologist Efremov(1940) to encompass studies in what he referred to as the “transition of animal remains from the biosphere into the lithosphere”. The use of taphonomy in forensics was first described by Dirkmaat and colleagues (2008) as “the most significant development to alter the field of forensic anthropology.” What is Forensic Taphonomy?  Forensic taphonomy involves the investigation of soft tissue changes, decomposition rates and patterns, the dispersion of body parts, and the modifications that occur to both soft tissues and bones. The effect of the environment on the decomposition of a dead corpse is an important factor. As per Casper’s dictum, […]

Sex Determination From Skeletal Remains

Sex or gender is one of the important characteristics that helps in determining the identity of an individual. The terms sex and gender are not to be confused in this context. Gender is a sociocultural construct, and sex is a biological trait. There are various types of methods that can be employed in sex determination of the deceased, such as general appearance of the person, secondary sexual characteristics, gonadal examination, footprint ratio, nuclear sexing and examination of bones and odontology. Among these methods except the bones and odontology all other characteristics can be used in determination of sex in both live and dead person.  When a non-decomposed body is found on the crime scene, it is easy to estimate the sex of the deceased by examination of secondary sexual characteristics and gonadal characteristics. But there are times when the forensic scientists only get the skeletal remains of the deceased. There the […]

Challenges in Wildlife Crime Investigation

Wildlife forensic is the field responsible for scientifically examining, evaluating and identifying the evidence found at the wildlife crime scene. It is applied usually at the places where the animals are killed for trade, trafficking or personal enjoyment. Forensics plays a crucial role in curtailing the wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflicts. Poaching (killing wild animals that are protected from hunting), is one of the most serious crimes investigated by wildlife forensic scientists. The various branches of forensic science involved in wildlife forensics are: Forensic Serology Forensic Toxicology Forensic DNA Analysis Forensic examination of Impressions (pugmark examination) Forensic Firearm Examination Forensic Documentation Cyber Forensics Forensic Veterinary Pathology All the above mentioned divisions use a variety of techniques for the examination but still there are a lot of challenges that limit the analysis process. Challenges in Wildlife Investigation 1. Wide Area of Habitat Wildlife crimes are usually committed in the restricted areas […]

New Technology By Forensic Experts In DNA Detection

As crimes are increasing day by day, technology is also increasing as well as advancing with the same velocity and giving rise to many organizations and techniques. Although technology has vast spectra and new advancements are taking place day by day but still there are some ways which are old fashioned or something which cannot give proper and best results for DNA detection. DNA detection is one such advancement in modern science that has changed not only the thinking of a person but lifestyle too. Well, there are still some restrictions or drawbacks of this method DNA or sometimes it failed to give one an exact result. If we talk about the method of DNA detection in the crimes like sexual assault, there are many problems and the environment of a courtroom becomes silent. For this reason, Mike Marciano, a research assistant professor has come forward to help this problem […]

Types of Facial Reconstruction

Facial reconstruction is a method of recreating the face of an individual from their skeletal remains. The process involves the combination of the osteology, anatomy, anthropology and artistry methods. Facial reconstruction is usually used in the field of archaeology and forensic identification. In archaeology, it is used to create three-dimensional visual images of the people from the past, skeletal remains, mummified bodies or bodies kept in bogs. In the context of forensic science, facial reconstruction is used for the purpose of establishing the identity of the deceased whose skeletal remains or mummified body is found. History of Facial Reconstruction The first three-dimensional facial approximation from cranial remains was done by Hermann Welcker in 1883 and Wilhelm His Sr in 1895. In 1964, Mikhail Gerasimov was probably the first to attempt paleo-anthropological facial reconstruction to estimate the appearance of ancient people. Wilton M. Krogmann was the one who popularized facial reconstruction […]

Age Determination in Human Beings

Age determination is an important aspect of forensic anthropology that helps in establishing the biological profile of an individual. Age classifies the persons into different groups which helps in limiting the area of investigation. The methods usually involved in age estimation are based on the principles of forensic anthropology and are applied to the deceased. However, there are certain methods that can be applied to living beings too. This article is based on the age determination of the deceased. Determination of Age in Humans If the particulars like birth records, identity proofs, etc. are found on the crime scene or with the deceased, then it is quite easy to determine the age of that person.  If the body is not decomposed or mutilated then observing the morphological characteristics like the secondary sexual characteristics, old age characteristics, etc. can be helpful in determining the age of the deceased. For example, the […]

Age Estimation of Living Individuals

Age is among the important features to establish the identity of an individual. It is usually based on the principles of forensic anthropology. Age estimation of the deceased is common practice in forensic medicine. But there are certain circumstances where the age of a living individual may form the basis of legal investigation. Methods of Estimating Age The methods of age estimation in living individuals are quite similar as well as different from the age estimation from the deceased. The following methods are involved for estimating age in living: Dental Development Dental developments estimate an almost accurate age of an individual. In human beings, the dentition is of two types- temporary and permanent. Temporary dentition consists of 20 teeth (4 incisors, 2 canines and 4 molars in each jaw) and generally begins at about six months and is completed by about two and half years. Permanent detention consists of 32 […]

Pugmark Examination in Wildlife Crimes

Pugmarks are studied under the category of track-mark evidence. They are the footprints or paw prints of all the animals and confirm their presence in a particular area. They are analogous to fingerprints and footprints of human beings and unique in nature for every individual animal. Therefore, they act as important evidence for profiling of animals. Pugmark examination can give a lot of information that helps in identifying an individual animal. A single pugmark can give the information about the gender, age, size, health conditions, time and direction in which the animal has moved. The scientific examination of pugmarks can link the suspect and crime scene with the victim animals. Pugmark examination is one of the important tasks for the wildlife crime analysts. They collect different sorts of data through pugmarks present in a particular area and estimate the population of different animals in that area. This helps them to […]

Forensic Investigation in Wildlife Crimes

The planet earth is filled with a lot of beauty because it has life on it and one of the most important forms of life is wildlife (fauna and flora). But due to the increasing greed of humans many wildlife species are on the verge of extinction because of the rapid hunting and poaching of the animals and deforestation, thus constituting wildlife crimes. Wildlife crime refers to the illegal trading (supplying, selling or trafficking), importing, exporting, processing, obtaining and consumption of wild fauna and flora, including timber and other forest products across national and international borders. International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) defines wildlife crimes as the acts committed contrary to national laws and regulations intended to protect natural resources and to administer their management and use. This includes the illicit exploitation of natural resources, such as poaching of animals and unauthorized logging of trees. It may also include […]

Microbial Forensics in Biocrimes & Bioterrorism

There are a lot of microorganisms present in the environment that are not visible to the naked eye. Therefore we are more prone to the diseases and harmful effects caused by these microorganisms. And because of this peculiar feature of microorganisms, they have made their way in the category of criminal threats successfully leading to nuisance of biocrimes and bioterrorism. Biocrimes is the intentional release of biological agents (bacteria, virus, fungi or toxins) causing harm to an individual. On the other hand, bioterrorism is the intentional release of biological agents to harm a large population.  Biothreats gained attention in 2001 because of the anthrax letter attacks in the US. An anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) laden letter was sent to many politicians and prominent personalities in the USA, killing 5 people and sending 22 people to the hospital while forcing the evacuation of congressional office building, offices of New York governor, television […]