ANP 213—M/W Winter 2005
Case Study #2

“Tom McCune speaking. Someone found what? Where? Yes, I know the area very well. Don't touch anything. I'll be right over."

Professor Thomas McCune was a 40-year-old forensic anthropologist who specialized in skeletonized human remains. Before returning to his home state of Massachusetts he had worked on high profile cases in Washington, D.C. Now he taught osteology and anthropology at a small university and spent summers leading anthropological digs in Mexico.

Winters were usually long and quiet in his hometown with the ground frozen solid, but in the spring the thawing earth often revealed something interesting to study. Tom was excited that he had been called to examine an actual crime scene this time. Usually someone just gathered up the bones, placed them in a bag or box, and plunked them down on his desk at the university. He could now use his forensic training to help the police and medical examiner determine the identity of the individual from the very beginning of the case. Rule number one was to not move the body until the investigation was complete. Photograph the scene. Examine it for clues. Sift the soil. Then collect and label the bones. It had been a long time, but he remembered the protocol clearly.

With a surge of adrenaline pumping through his blood, Tom grabbed his camera, hopped into his aging Toyota, and headed toward the state forest. There were many nature trails through the forest. He had hiked them often, but the one off Route 125 was the one he sped toward today. The group of nondescript, monochromatic cars along the side of the road signaled that he was at the right location. Arnold Spector from the local police department met Tom and signaled him to follow. The two men walked along, cutting the brisk air with their quick strides, until they came upon an isolated trail about a mile from the road. An officer from homicide, the coroner's office representative, and a tall slim man with a frisky dog were waiting for them.

"Hi, I'm Tom McCune. You've found something that you want me to look at?"

"Yes," answered Officer Garrett from the Homicide Unit. "This is Rob Underwood, the man who put in the 911 call. His dog found this bone." The officer held up a large, clear plastic bag containing what was obviously a human femur.

"Where is the rest of it?" Tom asked.

"Just behind those bushes." Officer Garrett motioned. "We've secured the site. Nothing has been touched. We haven't even notified the press yet. We were waiting for you."

As Tom parted the bushes, he saw very clearly an area that appeared to be a partially uncovered grave. From a shallow depression in the soft earth protruded the entire half of a human pelvic bone, probably exposed by the dog. The acetabulum lay empty, missing its femur, which had been removed by the dog. The remains obviously had been there for some time.

Tom positioned his camera and began photographing the scene. A search of the area yielded no further clues--no remnants of clothing, no signs of a disturbance--just the bones.

"Without personal effects, this is going to be a tough case," Tom thought.

The next task was to collect and label each bone. Afterward the grounds would be sifted for additional clues. It would be up to Tom, the forensic anthropologist, to determine the age and sex of the individual and to look for signs of trauma. What secrets would these bones reveal?

 

This case study is derived from the 1997 text The Use of Forensic Anthropology (Picering and Backman, 1997).  

 

 

Case Study #2, Part One

 

ACTIVITY 1: BONY LANDMARK ANALYSIS

 

  1. Help Tom McCune with this case by finding the bones that have all the landmarks described below.
  2. Next identify the landmarks (A, B, C, etc.) by taping a corresponding letter on the part of the bone described.
  3. Then, write the name of the bone that you believe is appropriate and indicate how many of that same bone a complete skeleton should have.
  4. Finally, describe the location of this bone type in the body. You may want to include other interesting features of each bone.

 

Bone 1 contains: (A) olecranon fossa, (B) deltoid tuberosity, (C) head, and (D) medial epicondyle.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 2 contains: (A) long spinous processes, (B) transverse facets, and (C) vertebral foramen.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 3 contains: (A) medial malleolus, (B) lateral condyle, and (C) tuberosity.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 4 contains: (A) promontory, (B) superior articular process, and (C) foramina.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 5 contains: (A) acromion, (B) glenoid fossa, and (C) corocoid process.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 6 contains: (A) linea aspera, (B) lateral epicondyle, and (C) greater trochanter.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 7 contains: (A) head, and (B) lateral malleolus.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 8 contains: (A) olecranon, (B) head, and (C) styloid process.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 9 contains: (A) acromial end, and (B) sternal end.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 10 contains: (A) lamina, (B) square spinous processes, and (C) large body.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 11 contains: (A) apex, and (B) base.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 12 contains: (A) head, (B) neck, and (C) styloid process.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 13 contains: (A) transverse foramen, (B) bifid spine, and (C) small body.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 14 contains: (A) manubrium, (B) body, and (C) xiphoid process.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 15 contains: (A) costal groove, (B) shaft, and (C) head.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 16 contains: (A) capitate, (B) pisiform, and (C) triquetral.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 17 contains: (A) proximal, (B) middle, and (C) distal pieces.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 18 contains: (A) cuboid, (B) talus, and (C) calcaneous.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 19 contains: (A) greater wings, (B) sella turcica, and (C) lesser wings.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 20 contains: (A) mastoid process, (B) styloid process, and (C) zygomatic process.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 21 contains: (A) mental foramen, (B) condylar process, and (C) coronoid process.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________

Bone 22 contains: (A) cribriform plate, (B) crista galli, and (C) perpendicular plate.
It is the_____________________ Number in body ________
Brief description _____________________________________________________________________________________