# Analysis of Skeletal Remains for students

```Analysis of Skeletal Remains - Worksheet
which involves the use of bone models, as well as actual bones.
In this activity, skeletons will be examined for how they vary according to the following:




Gender
Race
Age
Height
(based on the pelvis &amp; skull)
(based on the maxilla, and other characteristics of the skull)
(based on general characteristics)
(calculated based on the length of individual bones)
Students will be evaluated as to whether or not they correctly identified the gender, age, and race
of the individual.
Being able to determine Left and Right is also crucial to the practice of forensic anthropology,
not only for skeletal reconstruction, but also to determine the number of casualties. Reference to a
complete skeleton is helpful, but one is never around when you need one (as would happen if you
are investigating a skeleton in the woods. That will not be a part of this activity, but it easily could
be.
GENDER
One of the issues of concern to the forensic anthropologist is the gender of the human
remains. There are several things than may, on the surface, be useful to gender determination, but,
on upon closer examination, are not very useful. For example, females are, on average, shorter
than males, but a short skeleton can easily be male. This is due very simply to the fact that each
gender follows a Gaussian distribution (a.k.a. a Bell Curve). When one graphs the data (as a
histogram, or calculated to a bell curve), there is clearly gender overlap.
Histogram, the formula to calculate a bell curve, and the bell curve images are from
http://www.usablestats.com/lessons/normal
As such, it is easily possible to have a female at the tall end of the height curve, and a male at
the short end of the height curve. The curves for gender overlap, for the most part, with the peak of
each curve slightly off-set. It is easy to say that the average height is shorter for females than it is
for males, but that information is useless when we examine two individual skeletons.
There are several ways to more accurately determine the gender of a skeleton. One of them is by
examining the pelvis, which can be identified accurately 95% of the time.
Images from http://www.clipart.com/, and adapted by Mr. Lazaroff
Original images from http://www.boneclones.com/
Circle or highlight the Appropriate Answer
Angle &gt; 90 degrees or &lt; 90 degrees
Angle &gt; 90 degrees or &lt; 90 degrees
Sacrum Forward or Backward
Sacrum Forward or Backward
Pelvic Outlet Small or Large
Pelvic Outlet Small or Large
Female or Male
Female or Male
Another way is to examine the skull. This is still fairly accurate, but not as accurate as the
pelvis. Forensic anthropologists can accurately identify the skull somewhere between 85 and 90%
of the times. This can be complicated by several factors. If a skull is incomplete, then, of course,
there is less to work from. Some of the distinguishing characteristics, such as larger bone
landmarks for muscle attachments in males, can be easily confused with the landmarks of more
athletic females. To put it simply, since the landmarks are often for the attachment of muscles, the
larger the muscles, or the more one uses the muscles, the larger the landmarks.
Landmarks
Female
Male
Chin
Mastoid Process
Rounded
Square
Small
Large
Small
Large
(Not Prominent)
(Prominent)
General Anatomy
Gracile (i.e., Graceful)
Vertical
Robust
Receding
(Behind Ear)
External Occipital
Protuberance
(Back of Skull)
Brow Ridges
(Location of Eyebrows)
Muscle Lines
Orbital Margins
(Edge of Eye Socket)
Angle of Ascending Ramus
(Back Corner of the Jaw)
(Careful with the comments . . .)
Slightly Developed
Prominent
Slightly Developed
Prominent
Sharp
Rounded
Obtuse
Close to 90 degrees
Now try to identify the skulls below by gender:
Original images from http://www.boneclones.com/
Circle or highlight the Appropriate Answer
Chin Rounded or Square
Chin Rounded or Square
Mastoid Process Small or Large
Mastoid Process Small or Large
Occipital Protuberance Small or Large
Occipital Protuberance Small or Large
General Anatomy Gracile or Robust
General Anatomy Gracile or Robust
Brow Ridges Slight or Prominent
Brow Ridges Slight or Prominent
Muscle Lines Slight or Prominent
Muscle Lines Slight or Prominent
Orbital Margins Sharp or Rounded
Orbital Margins Sharp or Rounded
Angle of Ramus 90 degrees or Obtuse
Angle of Ramus 90 degrees or Obtuse
Gender Female or Male
Gender Female or Male
Now that you have had some practice,
Circle or highlight the Appropriate
Chin Rounded or Square
Mastoid Process Small or Large
Occipital Protuberance Small or Large
General Anatomy Gracile or Robust
Brow Ridges Slight or Prominent
Muscle Lines Slight or Prominent
Orbital Margins Sharp or Rounded
Angle of Ramus 90 degrees or Obtuse
Gender Female or Male
Original image from http://www.boneclones.com/
http://www.uic.edu/classes/osci/osci590/7_07Notes%20for%20Week%207.htm
In addition to determining gender, there are characteristics of the skull that can be used to
determine the race of an individual. Many of these features are quite subtle, and require detailed
examination of the skull. A couple of features, however, are more easily seen. For example, in
people of African ancestry, the nasal opening is more flared. Another example is that of the
zygomatic arch (or cheek bone), which is angled more forward in people of Asian ancestry, thus
giving the person a slightly more flattened face.. Unfortunately, a true examination of racial
characteristics is not possible on a worksheet.
Original images from http://www.boneclones.com/
African Male Nose
Asian Male Cheek
(Note Flaring)
(Note how it is angled forward)
Now Compare Examples of Skulls from these three Races
Asian
African
European
AGE The idea of age being represented by the skeleton was introduced in the Skeletons as Forensic Evidence
website we looked at earlier. One way we could tell was by looking at the condition of the bones themselves,
with the older bones being more likely to be arthritic. Examine the bones below, and label which is arthritic
(and therefore older), and which is the younger:
Original image from http://www.boneclones.com/
Circle or highlight the Appropriate Answer
Arthritic Yes or No
Arthritic Yes or No
Younger or Older
Younger or Older
Another way to determine age is by looking at the development of the sutures:
Images from http://www.clipart.com/, and adapted by Mr. Lazaroff
Note, for example, that the adult skull has no remaining suture (called the frontal suture) in the
middle of the Frontal bone. Remember, also, that all the sutures ultimately become more filled-in
(&quot;closed&quot;) as we age. Compare the two skulls below to determine which skull is from an adult, and
Original images from http://www.boneclones.com/
Circle or highlight the Appropriate Answer
Frontal Suture Present or Absent
Frontal Suture Present or Absent
Other Sutures &quot;Open&quot; or &quot;Closed&quot;
Other Sutures &quot;Open&quot; or &quot;Closed&quot;
Can you see the fontanels in the image below? Note how many places in the infant skeleton are
still made of cartilage, which appears blue. The indicates how much of the skeleton is still
developing.
Please note that the pelvis is still divided into the three parts: ilium, ischium, and pubis; these will
ultimately fuse into a single pelvic bone (a.k.a., Os coxa, or Innominate). Note the many bones in
the sternum, which will ultimately fuse into one. Remember that the total number of bones in the
skeleton, 206, is based on an adult skeleton. The actual number in an infant is much higher!
Please also note that there is a great deal of cartilage at the end of each of the long bones, an area
called the epiphysis (see the image below). (If each end is called the epiphysis, how do we show
one end of the humerus from the other end in the name? Easy: Proximal epiphysis&amp; Distal
epiphysis!) The cartilage at all the epiphyses (pl.) indicates that a great deal of growth in long
bones is actually happening at the ends (thus making the bones longer. Another way to determine
age is to look at the epiphysis (end) of a long bone (the shape of which should be self-explanatory).
First of all, an x-ray is actually a film negative. When light (Don't forget that x-rays are a form
of light!) hits photographic film, it turns the film black; in making a print (i.e., making a negative of
the negative, which is therefore a positive), the image printed will look white. The more light, the
darker the negative, and the brighter the developed image. X-rays pass easily through muscle and
most organs, butnot through bone; this will make the bones appear lighter in the negative (which
works well for us, as bones are already white!). An x-ray image (radiograph) of a child will reveal
a dark area where the growth plates are still made of cartilage (more x-rays can pass through
cartilage, which is less dense, thus making a dark area); these areas are the epiphyseal plates. An
x-ray radiograph of an adult will reveal a white area where the growth plates have been turned
into bone (fewer x-rays can pass through bone, which is more dense, thus making a white line);
these areas are the epiphyseal lines. Examine the radiographs below, and determine whether they
Images are from
Circle or highlight the Appropriate Answer
Epiphyseal Plate or Line
Epiphyseal Plate or Line
HEIGHT
Lastly, often a skeleton is incomplete. Despite this, it is still possible to calculate, with a certain
amount of accuracy, the height of a skeleton, even if the calculation is based upon a single
bone! Apart from height, average weight can be calculated based on not only the general size of
the bones, but also by evidence of the weight borne by the bones. These weight calculations,
however, are too complex to demonstrate without detailed examination of the bones, which
obviously cannot be done on a paper worksheet.
Any of the major bones of the arm or leg can be used to determine height. The major bones of
the arm are the humerus, ulna, and radius. The major bones of the leg are the femur, tibia, and
fibula. The Given that not everyone's arm to leg ratio is exact, height is usually estimated by using
more than one bone, if possible. Granted, a complete skeleton does not require calculation, but
skeletons are not always complete, especially ancient skeletons. The calculations we will be
looking at will be of the femur, humerus, and radius.
SmartDraw Image adapted by Mr. Lazaroff
In order to calculate the height, in inches, follow the formulas below for each of the bones. Be sure
to indicate height not only in the total number of inches, but in terms of feet and inches (i.e., a
person who is 62 inches is also described as being 5 feet, 2 inches tall, or 5' 2&quot;). NOTE: The
calculations, of course, are different when measurements are in centimeters.
Bone
(See Image)
Formula for calculating Body Height (in inches), but only if you use the, &quot;uh,
'merican&quot; system!
Female
Male
Femur Height equals (length of femur x 1.94) + 28.7 Height equals (length of femur x 1.88) + 32
Humerus Height equals (length of humerus x 2.8) + 28.1 Height equals (length of humerus x 2.9) + 27.8
Height equals (length of radius x 3.3) + 34
In order to calculate the height, in cm, as most of the world does, follow the slightly different
formulas below for each of the bones.
Formula for calculating Body Height (in cm) . . . The System EVERYONE ELSE
Uses!
(See Image)
Female
Male
Femur Height equals (length of femur x 1.94) + 72.9 Height equals (length of femur x 1.88) + 81.3
Humerus Height equals (length of humerus x 2.8) + 71.4 Height equals (length of humerus x 2.9) + 70.6
Radius Height equals (length of radius x 3.3) + 81.3 Height equals (length of radius x 3.3) + 86.4
Bone
Now plug in the following numbers into the formula to determine the height to
the nearest
1/2 inch (expressed both as inches -- x&quot; -- and as feet and inches -- x' + y&quot;) of the deceased:
Gender Bone Length
Female Femur
Male
Femur
Calculations
Height
x&quot;
in Inches
Height Multiply by
x' + y&quot; 2.54 to get
(Feet + the Height
Inches)
in cm
17.9&quot;
17.9&quot;
NOTE: The same length is shown to illustrate the different calculations
required for the same measurements, depending on the gender of the deceased.
Female Humerus 11.5&quot;
Male Humerus 11.5&quot;
Male
9.3&quot;
9.3&quot;
Check Your Work using our Bone Length to Body Height Calculator
Gender Bone Length
Calculations
Height
in cm
Multiply
by 0.3937 Height in
to get the Feet &amp;
Height
Inches
in inches
Female Femur 45.5 cm
Male
Femur 45.5 cm
NOTE: The same length is shown to illustrate the different calculations
required for the same measurements, depending on the gender of the deceased.
Female Humerus 29.2 cm
Male Humerus 29.2 cm
Male