Daniel J Wescott

Daniel J Wescott
Texas State University | TxSt · Department of Anthropology

PhD

About

97
Publications
34,270
Reads
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1,651
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2011 - present
Texas State University
Position
  • Director of FACTS
Education
December 2001
University of Tennessee
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (97)
Article
Full-text available
Electrical resistivity has been used as a noninvasive geophysical technique for locating clandestine graves and monitoring human decay within the subsurface. Detailed studies assessing resistivity anomalies due to soil disturbances and decay products associated with graves have relied on the use of proxies, such as pigs, with limited studies using...
Article
A qualitative actualistic human taphonomy study was conducted to analyze human decomposition and disarticulation in coffins. Two adult cadavers were placed in rectangular wooden coffins for around two and a half years for the purpose of the study. We used the archaeothanatological methodological framework to situate the actualistic study in a mortu...
Article
In this study, we present an experiment design and assess the capability of multiple geophysical techniques to image buried human remains in mass and individual graves using human cadavers willingly donated for scientific research. The study is part of a novel, interdisciplinary mass grave experiment established in May 2021 which consists of a mass...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper introduces an actualistic study replicating a small-sized mass grave with donated human remains at the Forensic Anthropology Center, Texas State University (FACTS), and presents the results of the first phase of development of a 3D virtual training tool for mass grave excavation and documentation. The ‘Mass Grave Project’ aims to advance...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Geophysical methods provide non-destructive approaches for detecting anomalies that provide investigative leads to clandestine individual and mass graves [1,2]. Studies on investigating the use of geophysical techniques for locating graves and monitoring human decay have mostly relied on proxies such as pigs, while case applications though with pro...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Microbiome studies are attracting increasing attention among forensic experts due to their potential to reveal valuable information related to individual identity, including geographical origin, health status, postmortem interval (PMI), and even lifestyle of the deceased[1]. To date, microbiome studies have mostly used animal proxies, allowing for...
Article
Full-text available
The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) began accepting whole-body donations for scientific research and educational purposes under the Texas Anatomical Gift Act in 2008. Research conducted with donated whole bodies involves studies in taphonomy and human decomposition, including reconstructing the postmortem interval. Following dec...
Presentation
This paper will present a recently initiated forensic taphonomic research project replicating small sized mass graves using donated human remains at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University (FACTS). Through taphonomic experiments, the Mass Grave Project aims to advance methods of detection, documentation and analysis of mass grave...
Article
Full-text available
Bone proteomic studies using animal proxies and skeletonized human remains have delivered encouraging results in the search for potential biomarkers for precise and accurate post-mortem interval (PMI) and the age-at-death (AAD) estimation in medico-legal investigations. The development of forensic proteomics for PMI and AAD estimation is in critica...
Article
Full-text available
The success of forensic investigations involving fatalities very often depends on the establishment of the correct timeline of events. Currently used methods for estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) are mostly dependent on the professional and tacit experience of the investigator, and often with poor reliability in the absence of robust biologi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Bone proteomics studies using animal proxies and skeletonized human remains have delivered encouraging results in the search for potential biomarkers for precise and accurate post-mortem interval (PMI) and the age-at-death (AAD) estimation in medico-legal investigations. At present, however, the effects of inter-individual biological differences an...
Article
Estimating postmortem interval (PMI) of surface found skeletal remains is challenging. This novel study used UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy to scan soil collected from cadaver decomposition islands (CDIs) ranging from 15 – 963 d postmortem and control soils. A decomposition products spectra model (DPS model) was constructed by deducting the control soil s...
Article
Reliable methods used to estimate the post-mortem interval (PMI) of skeletonized human remains are critically important for the accurate determination of time of death. During the early stages of decomposition (day ∼1-25), PMI can be determined by visual observation, temperature analysis, and forensic entomology. On an annual timescale, luminol che...
Article
Full-text available
Multi-isotope analysis (e.g., Sr-Pb-O-H-C-N) of human scalp hair is routinely used in forensic investigations of human remains to constrain the geographic origin of unidentified bodies, and to investigate antemortem mobility patterns. However, while it is known that postmortem processes can affect the preservation of, or even overprint, the biogeni...
Article
Full-text available
Multi-isotope analysis (e.g., Sr-Pb-O-H-C-N) of human scalp hair is routinely used in forensic investigations of human remains to constrain the geographic origin of unidentified bodies, and to investigate antemortem mobility patterns. However, while it is known that postmortem processes can affect the preservation of, or even overprint, the biogeni...
Poster
Full-text available
Understanding trauma patterns provides Forensic Anthropologists with necessary contextual information about the cause and manner of death. A difficulty in forensic cases for the medical examiner or forensic anthropologist is distinguishing trauma like a gunshot wound (GSW) or blunt force trauma (BFT). This difficulty occurs when the remains are inc...
Article
Objectives: In this study, we reexamined the body mass estimate for the Homo erectus specimen KNM-ER 5428 based on talus dimensions. Previous estimates of >90 kg for this fossil are large in comparison to body mass estimates for other H. erectus specimens. Materials and methods: The study sample consisted of tali and femora of 132 modern cadaver...
Article
Bone is a hierarchical composite material composed primarily of collagen molecules, mineral crystals, and water. The mineral phase confers strength and stiffness while the organic matrix provides toughness. As a result, living bone is very capable of absorbing energy and resisting fracture. After death, the bone often becomes dehydrated and the col...
Article
Stable isotope signatures of bioelements are utilized for geolocation of unknown human remains. Hair in particular can generate a high-temporal resolution record of recent travel history, providing critical investigative leads. However, systematic studies of law enforcement packaging materials and evidence packaging protocols are needed, including...
Article
Full-text available
Decomposition research is still in its infancy, but significant advances have occurred within forensic anthropology and other disciplines in the past several decades. Decomposition research in forensic anthropology has primarily focused on estimating the postmortem interval (PMI), detecting clandestine remains, and interpreting the context of the s...
Article
The Homo erectus specimen KNM-WT 15000 has played a critical role in our understanding of body size evolution. New interpretations suggest that KNM-WT 15000 had a younger age-at-death and a more rapid ontogenetic trajectory than previously suggested. Recent fossil discoveries and new interpretations suggest a wide range of body size and shape varia...
Article
Full-text available
Numerous biological and archaeological studies have demonstrated the legitimacy of remote sensing in anthropology. This article focuses on detecting and documenting terrestrial clandestine graves and surface remains (CGSR) of humans using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sensors, and automatic processing algorithms. CGSR is a problem of complex dec...
Conference Paper
A forensic anthropology user interface for automating search using remotely sensed data from unmanned aerial vehicles: preliminary findings
Chapter
Full-text available
Taphonomy is the entire suite of modifications to a biological organism from death to recovery caused by physical, mechanical, and chemical forces. In medicolegal death investigations, the taphonomic history of human remains is used by forensic scientists from numerous disciplines to estimate the time since death or postmortem interval (PMI). In th...
Article
Soil samples from the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility(FARF) at Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, were analyzed for multiple soil characteristics from cadaver decomposition islands to a depth of 5 centimeters (cm) from 63 human decomposition sites, as well as depths up to 15 cm in a subset of 11 of the cadaver decomposition islands plu...
Article
Ungulate gnawing on bone has been reported in the taphonomic and zooarchaeological literature, but there are no known reports of ungulates altering human remains. Herein, we report on the first known photographic evidence of deer gnawing human remains. As described in nonhuman scavenging literature, forking of the bone characterizes the taphonomic...
Article
Microorganisms are major ecological participants in the successional decomposition of vertebrates. The relative abundance, or the scarcity, of certain microbial taxa in gravesoil has the potential to determine the ecological status of skeletons. However, there are substantial knowledge gaps that warrant consideration in the context of the surroundi...
Poster
Full-text available
The goal of this study was to validate the research by Wedel (2007) to determine if season-of-death can be estimated using DCIA to identify the optical nature of the outer band in a sample of skeletons with known dates of death.
Poster
Full-text available
Current methods for estimating the Postmortem Interval (PMI) using decomposition rely on descriptions that are climate specific and therefore, difficult to apply across varying regions. A greater understanding of the postmortem interval and the process of decomposition can assist law enforcement in narrowing down missing persons reports and generat...
Article
Full-text available
Despite technological advances, human remains detection (HRD) dogs still remain one of the best tools for locating clandestine graves. However, soil texture may affect the escape of decomposition gases and therefore the effectiveness of HDR dogs. Six nationally credentialed HRD dogs (three HRD only and three cross-trained) were evaluated on novel b...
Article
Over the past two centuries there have been documented secular changes in stature, weight, body proportions, and skeletal maturation rates in the United States. These changes along with a more sedentary lifestyle are likely reflected in femur morphology. Here we examine secular changes in diaphyseal cross-sectional size, shape, area, robusticity, a...
Article
Full-text available
The Missouri River in Callaway County, Missouri, flooded in 1993, necessitating salvage excavations at old Shiloh Cemetery, which yielded 11 mostly complete skeletons of African American adolescents and 7 other individuals who died during the mid to late 1800s. The skeletons exhibit evidence of stress normal for the period but no indications of cau...
Conference Paper
Estimating the postmortem interval is a issue shared by numerous disciplines, including anthropology, medicine, entomology, and microbiology among others. We all understand the complexity of decomposition and strive to uncover the underlying similarities and rules governing how carrion is recycled. In the past we have attempted to understand this c...
Conference Paper
After attending this presentation, attendees will be able to: (1) describe the process by which crime scene investigators approach human remains for the collection of microbial and entomological evidence; (2) collect genomic DNA evidence from human cadaver-associated soil using readily available DNA extraction kits to isolate and assess the quality...
Article
The presence of an elevated auricular surface and a postauricular sulcus is presented in numerous reference books as osteological indicators of sex, but the validity of these traits has not been adequately evaluated. The ilia of 322 (181 male, 141 female) adults were examined, the auricular surface was scored as completely, partially, or nonelevate...
Article
Full-text available
During medicolegal investigations, forensic anthropologists commonly use morphological changes in the auricular surface of the ilium and the symphyseal face of the pubis to estimate age. However, obesity may impact the reliability of age estimations based on pelvic joints. Over the past several decades, the prevalence of obesity has dramatically in...
Article
Full-text available
This study tests for differences in articular and diaphyseal size and shape of the distal femur and proximal tibia between normal weight and obese individuals, and discusses the effects of obesity on the patterns of sexual dimorphism and secular change in the skeletal morphology of the knee. Measurements of the femur and tibia were recorded for 143...
Article
Average femoral torsion has been reported to differ among populations, and several studies have observed a relatively high prevalence of femoral anteversion asymmetry in Native Americans, especially females. This study investigates sexual dimorphism and temporal trends in femoral torsional asymmetry among the Arikara from the seventeenth to the ear...
Article
Femoral diaphyseal cross-sectional shape is commonly used to interpret levels of terrestrial logistic mobility (TLM; daily distance covered on land by individuals or groups) in human archaeological populations. However, variation in femoral diaphyseal shape can be influenced by factors other than TLM, such as other lower limb habitual activities, d...
Conference Paper
Penetrating trauma has been cited as a significant factor in the rate of decomposition. Therefore, penetrating trauma may have an effect on estimations of time-since-death in medicolegal investigations and on research examining decomposition rates and processes when autopsied human bodies are used. The goal of this study was to determine if there a...
Conference Paper
After attending this presentation, attendees will understand the expected trauma and distribution patterns of hard and soft tissues associated with the reduction of human remains 488 *Presenting Author using a small, commercial, disc-type wood chipper applied to a porcine model. This presentation will impact the forensic science community by pr...
Chapter
The biomechanics of bone trauma is the application of mechanical laws to describe and interpret damage that occurs to bone. It involves the examination of both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors resulting in bone injury. Knowledge of the biomechanics of bone trauma allows forensic scientists to use bone fractures to deduce the type and direction o...
Article
The fuzzy integral (FI) is an extremely flexible aggregation operator. It is used in numerous applications, such as image processing, multicriteria decision making, skeletal age-at-death estimation, and multisource (e.g., feature, algorithm, sensor, and confidence) fusion. To date, a few works have appeared on the topic of generalizing Sugeno's ori...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In prior work, Grabisch put forth a direct (i.e., result of the Extension Principle) generalization of the Sugeno fuzzy integral (FI) for fuzzy set (FS)-valued normal (height equal to one) integrands and number-based fuzzy measures (FMs). Grabisch's proof is based in large on Dubois and Prade's analysis of functions on intervals, fuzzy numbers (thu...
Article
Full-text available
ABstRACt The Battle of Resaca de la Palma, the second battle of the Mexican-American War, was fought on May 9, 1846 near the Rio Grande River in southern Texas. The battle was won decisively by United States troops and resulted in the death of hundreds of Mexican soldiers who were subsequently buried in mass graves. One of the mass graves (41CF3) c...
Article
Full-text available
Approximately 10,000 radiocarbon years before present, the body ofa 17- to 19-year-old female, probably associated with the Plainview Culture, was buried on the south side of Arch Lake, located near the present-day border of New Mexico and Texas. The young woman was interred in an extended supine position with a necklace of talc beads low on her ne...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Previously, we introduced a novel method to estimate adult skeletal age-at-death using the Sugeno fuzzy integral (FI). Specifically, we took a multi-hypothesis testing approach to make the classical FI yield a fuzzy set (FS)-valued result, which is not guaranteed to be normal or convex, based on interval-valued sources of information (aging methods...
Article
Full-text available
We explored the relationship between epistemological beliefs and nature of science in a college biology course. One hundred thirty-three college students participated in the research. Exploratory factor analysis with 29 Nature of Science (NOS) items yielded three aspects of NOS: empirical, tentative, and sociocultural nature of scientific knowledge...
Article
In 2006 a cast-iron coffin was discovered in an unmarked burial plot in Lexington, Missouri. A multifaceted investigation was conducted to provide historical documentation and possible identification of the individual. The coffin is an early Fisk Patent Metallic Burial Case. Osteological analyses indicate that the skeletal remains belong to a 20 to...
Article
Full-text available
For over twenty years, the young, male Homo erectus specimen KNM-WT 15000 has been the focus of studies on growth and development, locomotion, size, sexual dimorphism, skeletal morphology, and encephalization, often serving as the standard for his species. Prior research on KNM-WT 15000 operates under the assumption that H. erectus experienced a mo...
Article
Full-text available
Ancient Nomads is the companion book to a Canadian Museum of Civilization exhibition comparing the cultures of nomadic peoples from the Russian and Canadian grasslands. Following an introduction, the “Grasslands” chapter describes the terrain, climate, vegetation, and wildlife in the Russian Steppes and the Canadian Great Plains. The authors then p...
Article
Full-text available
College students do not come to biological sciences classes, including biological anthropology, as “blank slates.” Rather, these students have complex and strongly held scientific misconceptions that often interfere with their ability to understand accurate explanations that are presented in class. Research indicates that a scientific misconception...
Article
Full-text available
Age-at-death estimation of an individual skeleton is important to forensic and biological anthropologists for identification and demographic analysis, but it has been shown that the current aging methods are often unreliable because of skeletal variation and taphonomic factors. Multifactorial methods have been shown to produce better results when d...
Article
Full-text available
  There is very limited knowledge about how long perimortem fracture characteristics persist into the postmortem interval (PMI). Therefore, in this study, 60 porcine long bones were exposed to natural taphonomic conditions and fractured with a steel bone breaking apparatus every 28 days throughout a 141-day period. Differences between macroscopic b...
Article
Variation in humeral and femoral structural morphology of Great Plains populations is examined for differences due to subsistence practice and geographical location. The sample consists of Archaic hunter-gatherers, early and middle Woodland hunter-gatherers, late Woodland incipient horticulturalists, Plains Village horticulturalists, and equestrian...
Article
Full-text available
A great deal has previously been written about the use of skeletal morphological changes in estimating ages-at-death. This article looks in particular at the pubic symphysis, as it was historically one of the first regions to be described in the literature on age estimation. Despite the lengthy history, the value of the pubic symphysis in estimatin...
Article
In 1990, Gilbert and Gill proposed a simple metric technique using femoral subtrochanteric anteroposterior and mediolateral diaphyseal diameters for discriminating between Native American and American Black and White femora in medicolegal and bioarchaeological contexts. However, there are several inherent assumptions in the method that may affect i...
Article
Full-text available
Pelin et al. recently showed that sacral height measured on lateral magnetic resonance images can be used with moderate accuracy to reconstruct stature in males. In most forensic anthropological cases, however, sacral dimensions must be obtained from dry bones. In this study, the relationship between stature and sacral height, hip height, and femur...
Article
Full-text available
Femur subtrochanteric size and shape can be used to differentiate between adult Native Americans and American Blacks and Whites, but little is known about when shape differences are established during growth and development. Ontological changes in subtrochanteric shape were examined using 74 Native American and 61 American Black/White subadult femo...
Article
Humeral and femoral cross-sectional properties from three archaeological variants of the Arikara, an American Great Plains Indian tribe, were analyzed for temporal (16th to 19th centuries) changes in long bone architecture, asymmetry, and sexual dimorphism associated with intensification of horticulture during the late protohistoric and early histo...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigates differences in femur midshaft shape, robusticity, and sexual dimorphism derived from external measurements between a broad range of prehistoric and historic North American populations with different subsistence strategies and inferred levels of mobility. The sample was divided into six groups to test whether observed femur m...