Terminology and Explanations

FAC Forensic Anthropology Center

F.A.C.E.S. – Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory

TSD – time since death

Archaeology — the study of past cultures via material remains and artifacts

Cultural and linguistic anthropology — the study of the aspects of human society and language, past and present

Entomologythe study of insects

Electronic Nose – artificial nose that pulls air through a tube into a spectrometer chamber. This machine will isolate the specific chemicals.  The electronic nose is based on the same air-borne bio-markers in decomposition odors that attracts cadaver dogs.  Developed by Dr Arapad Vass.

Forensic anthropology – The forensic anthropologist specializes in hard tissue morphology, structure and variability, the application of physical anthropology to the medico-legal process. In those cases in which soft tissue has been degraded by time, temperature, environment or other external forces, the only tissue remaining more or less intact is bone.

According to the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, “Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology to the legal process. The identification of skeletal, badly decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains is important for both legal and humanitarian reasons. Forensic anthropologists apply standard scientific techniques developed in physical anthropology to identify human remains, and to assist in the detection of crime.”

That is, forensic anthropologists assist law enforcement investigators and medical examiners to identify human skeletal and decomposing remains, generally working in cooperation with pathologists and odontologists to estimate the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and unique bony features of the deceased. Using their specific expertise, they may furnish clues pointing toward foul play.

Forensic Entomologist – specializes in the developmental stages and behavior of different types of insects found on a cadaver at a crime scene. They provide indicators about the time that has passed since the person’s death (PMI), although this is not an exact science. They also indicate something about the climate and locale in which the death may have occurred.

ForDisc (forensic discrimination software) – Dr. Richard Jantz has developed forensic software based on measurements from various areas of the bones, along with information about the person’s race, height, age, and illnesses. ForDisc estimates from a skeleton of unknown identity the gender, race, and stature, and the database is continually updated.

FORDISC 3.0. Drs. Richard Jantz from UTK and Stephen Ousley from the Smithsonian Institution were the co-authors of the computer program FORDISC 3.0.

Gas Chromatograph – separates and analyzes the distinct parts of compound mixtures

Ground Penetrating Radar – machine registers kinds of patterns when it hits on a body even if  buried under different thicknesses of concrete , buried at different depths.

Physical anthropology — the study of the primate order, past and present, such as primate biology, skeletal biology, and human adaptation

Pugilistic Posture or Boxer’s Stance – fire shrivels muscles as water evaporates, and how the stronger muscles bring fingers, arms, and legs into a flexed position known as “boxer’s stance” or Pugilistic Posture.                        If that posture is not evident on a body at a fire scene, then suspicions are raised as to whether the person actually died in the fire.

Taphonomic Conditions things in the environment that can affect a bone’s appearance and condition.

Vidocq Society –  group of forensic professionals based in Philadelphia


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