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What is forensic anatomy?

This article describes what forensic anatomy is, and how to become involved in the field of forensic anatomy to become an expert.
© The University of Sheffield

The police cannot be experts in all aspects of a murder investigation and will often require additional expertise to help solve a case.

Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs)

Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) will assess the areas of a case to focus on in order to determine the identity of a victim, why and how a murder happened, and who the perpetrator was.

Once this has been established, they can determine where in the investigation they require additional expertise and begin to identify which individuals or organisations can provide this assistance.

Universities employ individuals with a high level of training, research, and expertise in specific subject areas and for this reason, are often contacted to assist with an investigation.

When trying to identify a murder victim and the cause of death, the Police will often ask for advice from academics involved in the identification of human remains. This can include anatomists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and medics.

These specialists often teach and carry out research as their primary job and are asked to give their expert opinion to the Police on a case by case basis.

The path to forensic anatomy

There is no one clear path to becoming involved in the field of forensic anatomy. However, all experts will have extensive training in physiological and pathological human osteology and musculoskeletal anatomy.

Forensic experts

Forensic experts may specialise and have an in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of forensic anatomy. For example, a Funerary Archaeologist may be asked to analyse burnt human remains, a Forensic Anthropologist may be asked to advise when the Police believe the ancestry of a murder victim is key to an investigation and an expert in facial reconstruction may be asked to consult when an identification from a human skull is required.

Analysis of skeletal features

The biological profile of every skeleton is unique. An analysis of skeletal features can answer many questions about an unidentified person.

This enables the police to target specific aspects of a missing person database and to release information to the general public who may be able to assist with the identification.

© The University of Sheffield
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