Daniel Ravenscroft

Daniel Ravenscroft

I am a graduate of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, and currently work at the University as a Demonstrator for Human Anatomy and Biomedical Science lab classes.

Location University of Sheffield



  • Hi Christiejo, the links were just at the bottom of this article:

  • Hi Debbie, I've not had chance to go through it yet but a number of learners have recommended the Identifying the Dead MOOC run by the University of Dundee.

  • Hi Tony, I understand what you're suggesting, and think it would be quite appropriate if a statistical method could be defined. In fact I recently read a research paper that attempted to reveal the effect of the muscles of mastication (chewing muscles) on the bones of the skull - it suggested that larger muscles would leave visible differences on those bones....

  • Hi Jill, thank you for the suggestion, I'll certainly make sure it's passed on as I know there has been difficulty in following the pace of the video in 2.4.

  • Hi Susan, if you were to carry out a facial reconstruction then yes, that information would be important (and they are roughly as shown on the images). On this course we are trying to introduce the technique as part of the Finding Mr. X investigation, so did not want to overload it with material. However, we appreciate the feedback and I'll make sure it's...

  • Hi Diandra, that's a very comprehensive reply! Exactly, the tissue depth averages may be selected based on the factors you stated, resulting in different reconstructions.
    Your suggestion of weight estimation is appropriate and I've had a similar discussion with other learners - the point you make about weight gain or loss is especially relevant as that is one...

  • Hi Crisel, that's great and a lot of people are here because of their similar interest in crime TV shows! I hope you enjoy the course, but don't expect to be doing forensics as fast as the Flash!

  • Hi Stephen, the marker pegs do use average tissue depths. Can you think why different averages may be used for different people?

  • Hello Lavinia, if you remember in Week 1 we found out the body was an adipocerous mummy, requiring it to have been stored for at least several years.

  • Jean that's a perfect example of how bias could be introduced into a reconstruction! I think we are all tempted to make things in a manner that is more familiar to us. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Hi Margaret, a few people have also found the pace difficult. I'll pass on the feedback, but for now you may find it helpful to go through the next article which gives information on all the facial muscles, and then come back and watch this video again.

  • This is a feeling shared by a lot of people! I haven't found an official attempt at this by qualified experts, but you all be very interested in this comment by Dr Linehan, the lead educator: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/forensic-facial-reconstruction/1/comments/19500534

  • Hi Carole and Pamela, thank you for feedback, it's appreciated that it is a lot of content to take in at once! The next article covers each muscle again, so you may find it beneficial to read through and then come back to this video.

  • Hi Alysa, I hope you're able to find more courses you can take to satisfy your interests! Thank you very much for the feedback, I'll make sure it's passed along.

  • Hello Ali, a facial reconstruction is very rarely the first choice in criminal investigations, but may be among the first things in an archaeological case. Can you suggest why or when a forensic facial reconstruction may be useful, despite the time and lack of specificity, in a criminal investigation?

  • Vicky - the amount of wear at certain joints can be used to estimate the weight of a person. Without any soft tissue, the amount of fat would be very difficult to predict.
    Really interesting isn't it! Clearly being able to accurately identify ethnicity is a really significant part of forensic archaeology.

  • Yes Barbara I would agree that could be a limitation in identifying the person. And Matt that's a good point, hopefully as digital reconstructions become more prominent, doing something along those lines will become more achievable.
    Barbara, I would add another possible risk could be if the forensics team are aware of a prime suspect, as it would be crucial...

  • Margaret those are some great suggestions. If enough of the skull and dentition is present then hopefully these would be identified and treated appropriately for the reconstruction. Just as we saw with Mr. X and chewing khat, habitual behaviours that can be inferred from the skeleton can be really useful in assisting identification!

  • Well Barbara I think what you're touching on is one of the most important considerations in avoiding the introduction of bias into a reconstruction. The use of tissue depth markers should help to avoid this, to some degree. Can you think of any other ways the reconstruction could be biased?

  • Hi Margaret, there is some evidence to show that the thickness of the lips can be related to the shape and size of the teeth, including the height of enamel and differences between upper and lower teeth.
    I'm afraid I don't know a lot about how similar the results of digital reconstruction are (but am following the field with keen interest, as it seems to only...

  • Hi Matt, the difference in how the nose and mouth areas are reconstructed for individuals of the same ethnicity is more to do with the corresponding structures, for instance the nasal aperture (gap across the nasal bone) and the dentition (e.g. the size of the teeth). That would definitely be good to see! I think judging how to consider ethnicity in the...

  • Hi Mary, average tissue depths do vary between ethnicities but this is not always the only consideration - often evidence that gives an impression of the individual's size and lifestyle can be just as important. In 2.7 there is a really interesting video with Professor Wilkinson in which she describes the software she uses to perform reconstructions. As these...

  • I remember seeing your comment, a very logical suggestion! Even if the information did not directly contribute to Mr. X's identification, these theories were very important for corroborating the details of the case.

  • Not easily Roger, though estimations may be made regarding how active they were, or if they suffered from medical conditions that would have resulted in such physical characteristics. As always, the amount of evidence available will help create a profile for the individual - perhaps in giving light on their medical history, or it could even be something like...

  • Catherine thank you for noticing this, there was an error when the image was uploaded. You are right that the only attachments of Levator Labii Superioris should be the origin just below the orbits, and the insertion just above the upper teeth.

  • There has been an error in uploading the image for Levator Labii Superioris - the only muscle fibres that should be present are the ones on the front, the pair that descend from just below the orbits to the upper lip (just above the upper teeth). Please ignore the fibres that seem to attach to the rear molars.

  • Certainly if there is a photograph that would be very useful, and in the case of historical reconstructions (i.e. of known individuals) then things like photos, paintings and written descriptions would be used. However, even for people we do not know (so there would be no photographs to help) such as those hoping to be identified in a criminal investigation...

  • Hi Anasuya, as we cannot know the exact thickness, average thickness based on age, sex and ethnicity are used. Also considered is any other information we may have found out about the individual, could you suggest anything that could be taken into consideration for a facial reconstruction?

  • Hi Barbara, I know this is a lot of anatomical information in one short video, but hopefully the next article: 2.5 The muscles of the skull, will help you to process what you've just seen. Perhaps it would be best to revisit this video once you've had a look through that article.

  • Hi Catherine, I'll try to confirm if that is an error, thank you for picking up on it.

  • Hi Susan and John, the reason it is not normally included is simply because it makes little difference to the appearance of the reconstruction, not because of a lack of importance. Wrinkles are still added as artistic details in the skin layer.

  • Hi Debbie, I just responded to a similar question. I don't know if such a thing has been tested in a formal setting, but you may be really interested to read this comment by our lead educator!
    I think your concerns are valid nonetheless, particularly features like lips...

  • Hi Catherine, sorry for the disparity - I looked this up after another learner picked up on it as well. The key condition for an adipocerous mummy is that it is stored in a "moist" or "damp" environment. In Professor Evison's report, he refers to a "cool, moist environment".

  • Hi Margaret, sorry for the disparity - I looked this up after another learner picked up on it as well. The key condition is that it is "moist" or "damp". In Professor Evison's report, he refers to a "cool, moist environment".

  • I forgot to mention, the author of the above paper is Professor Caroline Wilkinson, who you will come across more in Week 2 of the course!

  • Hi Bob. I think the short answer to your question is yes, but the context would be very relevant. Should the firearm or trauma have damaged the bones underneath the face, then the accuracy of any reconstruction would be greatly reduced. As you will see in Week 2 of this course, the bones of the skull are critical to how the muscles of the face are applied in a...

  • Hi Kate, I can't comment on how similar they would always be, but here is a link to a comment by Dr Linehan (our lead educator) which you will probably find really interesting! Seeing as I was part of the class she refers to, I know I certainly did!

  • Kathryn and Helen, here is a link to the article I mentioned https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815945/
    This is one of many papers that comment on the accuracy and techniques involved in facial reconstruction. It is quite long, so I would suggest searching (Ctrl F) for "lips" and "nose" if that is what you are most interested in. I hope it helps to...

  • Hi Emma, this could extend to a number of things. One of the most apparent would be if the forensics team were aware of a prime suspect, as if they're not vigilant, they could find that knowledge altering how they carry out the reconstruction (they would need to be careful not to allow it to change what they expect the reconstruction to look like).

  • Hi Anthony, that's an interesting suggestion that I've not seen anyone else come up with. Farming the crop is a reasonable suggestion for what happened to his arm as well. Ultimately this case would always have to be treated under very suspicious circumstances due to the nature of his discovery and the condition of the body - both being found dumped in a bag,...

  • Hi Kathryn, this is one of the most challenging parts of a facial reconstruction, and is often considered to take the most artistic licence. However, the nose is generally just slightly wider than the width of the nasal aperture (the gap across the nasal bone). The thickness of the lips consider features including the arrangement of the teeth and facial...

  • That's right Maria, diet - particularly during childhood - will alter the development of the skeleton. Hormones do affect the formation of bones - significantly the effect of testosterone in males and oestrogen/progesterone in women, and how these result in the sex-defining characteristics that we explore in this course.