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A Journal on Forensic Medicine




Minerva Medicolegale 2009 September;129(3):155-64

language: English

Approaches and trends in forensic anthropology

Wescott D. J.1,2

1 Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
2 Department of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA


Conventionally, forensic anthropology is defined as the application of physical anthropology to the legal process. As experts in osteology, skeletal biology and archeology, forensic anthropologists assist in the recovery and analyses of human remains, especially when they are skeletonized, burned, mutilated, or otherwise unrecognizable. Forensic anthropologists use knowledge of skeletal biology to develop a biological profile, aid in identification, reconstruct trauma, and estimate the postmortem interval. In the past three decades forensic anthropology has been growing rapidly and developing as both a forensic science and as an area of research in physical anthropology with the number of both academic and non-academic positions in forensic antropology increasing in the United States. Forensic anthropologists are increasingly involved in numerous aspects of crime scene, mass disaster, and human rights investigations, including search and recover, analysis of remains, and expert testimony. Simultaneously, forensic anthropology has also matured into a dynamic field of research that is generating new research questions and new methods for reexamining older anthropological and forensic hypotheses. This overview discusses the role of forensic anthropology as an applied forensic science and as an academic research area within physical anthropology.

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