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The discovery of human remains dating to the time of the Second World War is a common occurrence in Europe and the Pacific regions. This case report demonstrates the analysis of a bone fragment recovered from a Luftwaffe crash site in Austria during the summer of 2007. Eye-witness statements and official reports were used to reconstruct the historical background of the case. A recovered German military identity tag helped to identify the pilot. Aircraft parts, also discovered at the crash site in 2007, aided the identification of the aircraft type and corroborated the eye-witness reports of the final moments before and during the crash. The bone was analyzed chiefly to establish its human or non-human origin and to identify from which anatomic region the fragment could have arisen. It was identified as part of a human adult skull which exhibited peri-mortem fractures and heat damage as well as post-mortem vegetation staining. The historical background information in connection with the morphological analysis led to the presumptive identification of the cranial fragment as belonging to a downed German pilot.
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.
... This is due to the impact of the body on the ground, which differs from trauma caused by an airplane crash. Few studies are available that report airplane crashes in an archaeological context (Gapert & Rieder, 2013;Palmiotto et al., 2020). Most of these types of studies are reported in forensic literature (Byard & Tsokos, 2006;de Bakker et al., 2018) were quite well preserved and tended to be present in their entirety. ...
During World War II, part of France was occupied by the German army. In the summer of 1940, the Germans wanted to invade England from France. Then, the Battle of Britain began, which lasted until spring 1941 after a victory of the Royal Air Force over the Luftwaffe. During this battle, the Luftwaffe bombed southeast England and the London area using the Beauvais-Tillé airfield (northern France). This airfield was mainly used by German bomber squadrons. In 2018, a temporary cemetery was discovered during land-use planning work next to the location of this former airfield. Within the cemetery, 39 graves were discovered. Sixteen contained complete skeletons in coffins, and 23 consisted of fragments of skeletal remains within coffins. The individuals exhumed on the Beauvais site and wearing aviator outfits probably participated in this battle, as suggested by the presence of life jackets, implying flights over the sea. An interdisciplinary approach that employed archaeological and anthropological methods using the analysis of trauma on skeletal remains, in particular, provided details on this period and this type of context.
... The study of human remains is an important area of anthropology, especially for the analysis and identification of burned skeletal remains, for example in cases of forensic fires or mass disasters . However, heat-induced changes cause several alterations to bone tissue, possibly affecting the definition of a biological profile [1,2,; these modifications are mainly due to the effect of evaporation and degradation of the organic matter during combustion, and include alterations in the color, mechanical properties and chemical features of bone tissue, dependent on the burning temperature and the general conditions of the combustion process, which creates standardized burn patterns [1,2,7,. ...
The significant role of the petrous bone in sex assessment of skeletal human remains has been highlighted by several studies. In previous work we applied the method of the measurement of the lateral angle of the petrous bone to a sample of cremated human remains of known age and sex from an Italian crematorium; the low accuracy of sex classification obtained was probably due to the high number of elderly individuals in our sample. In this paper we investigate the relationship between age and alterations of the petrous bone, by applying the same methodology we used previously, measuring the lateral angle of the petrous bone, in a new sample group that was subdivided into three different age groups. Results showed a moderate rate of accuracy in sex assessment for the first two age groups, for which a new sex-discriminating sectioning point was found; however, the method was found not to be applicable for individuals over 70 years of age. Measurement of the lateral angle in adults aged between 20 and 70 years is a reliable method for sex assessment of cremated remains in conjunction with classical methods, in both archaeological and forensic contexts.
... In this issue of the journal we have described scene examination and the process of assessment of a fragment of skeletal material taken from a WWII fighter plane crash site . It is of interest that at that late stage in the war with significantly reduced Luftwaffe numbers, three German Sturmjäger units, IV.(Sturm)/JG 3, II.(Sturm)/JG 300 and II.(Sturm) ...
Marjanović D., Durmić-Pašić A., Bakal N., Haverić S., Kalamujić B., Kovačević L., Ramić J., Pojskić N.,Škaro V., Projić P., Bajrović K., Hadžiselimović R., Drobnić K., Huffine E., Davoren J., Primorac D. (2007): DNA identification of skeletal remains from world war II mass graves uncovered in Slovenia. Croatian Medical Journal, 48 (4): 513-519.
To describe the organization, field work, forensic anthropological examination, and DNA analysis conducted to identify the victims from a World War II mass grave found on the Dalmatian island of Daksa near Dubrovnik (Croatia) in 2009.
Excavation of the site was performed according to standard archeological procedures. Basic anthropological examination was made to determine the minimum number of victims, sex, age at death, and height. The bones with pathological and traumatic changes were identified. DNA was extracted from powdered bones and relatives' blood samples. Y-chromosome and autosomal short tandem repeats (STR) were used to establish the relationship of the remains with the putative family members.
The remains were found to belong to at least 53 distinctive victims. All were male, mostly with gunshot wounds to the head. DNA analysis and cross-matching of the samples with relatives resulted in 14 positive identifications using the Y-chromosomal STRs and 4 positive identifications using the autosomal STRs.
This study showed that even in cases of more than 50-year-old, highly degraded human remains from mass graves, Y-chromosomal and autosomal STRs analysis can contribute to identification of the victims.
Forensic anthropology (in Lithuania, as everywhere in Eastern Europe, traditionally considered as a narrower field--forensic osteology) has a long history, experience being gained both during exhumations of mass killings during the Second World War and the subsequent totalitarian regime, investigations of historical mass graves, identification of historical personalities and routine forensic work. Experts of this field (usually a branch of forensic medicine) routinely are solving "technical" questions of crime investigation, particularly identification of (usually dead) individuals. Practical implementation of the mission of forensic anthropology is not an easy task due to interdisciplinary character of the field. On one hand, physical anthropology has in its disposition numerous scientifically tested methods, however, their practical value in particular legal processes is limited. Reasons for these discrepancies can be related both to insufficient understanding of possibilities and limitations of forensic anthropology and archaeology by officials representing legal institutions that perform investigations, and sometimes too "academic" research, that is conducted at anthropological laboratories, when methods developed are not completely relevant to practical needs. Besides of answering to direct questions (number of individuals, sex, age, stature, population affinity, individual traits, evidence of violence), important humanitarian aspects--the individual's right for identity, the right of the relatives to know the fate of their beloved ones--should not be neglected. Practical use of other identification methods faces difficulties of their own (e.g., odontology--lack of regular dental registration system and compatible database). Two examples of forensic anthropological work of mass graves, even when the results were much influenced by the questions raised by investigators, can serve as an illustration of the above-mentioned issues.
This paper describes molecular genetic identification of one third of the skeletal remains of 88 victims of postwar (June 1945) killings found in the Konfin I mass grave in Slovenia. Living relatives were traced for 36 victims. We analyzed 84 right femurs and compared their genetic profiles to the genetic material of living relatives. We cleaned the bones, removed surface contamination, and ground the bones into powder. Prior to DNA isolation using Biorobot EZ1 (Qiagen), the powder was decalcified. The nuclear DNA of the samples was quantified using the real-time polymerase chain reaction method. We extracted 0.8 to 100 ng DNA/g of bone powder from 82 bones. Autosomal genetic profiles and Y-chromosome haplotypes were obtained from 98% of the bones, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes from 95% of the bones for the HVI region and from 98% of the bones for the HVII region. Genetic profiles of the nuclear and mtDNA were determined for reference persons. For traceability in the event of contamination, we created an elimination database including genetic profiles of the nuclear and mtDNA of all persons that had been in contact with the skeletal remains. When comparing genetic profiles, we matched 28 of the 84 bones analyzed with living relatives (brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, nephews, or cousins). The statistical analyses showed a high confidence of correct identification for all 28 victims in the Konfin I mass grave (posterior probability ranged from 99.9% to more than 99.999999%).
To report on the use of STR, Y-STRs, and miniSTRs typing methods in the identification of victims of revolutionary violence and crimes against humanity committed by the Communist Armed Forces during and after World War II in which bodies were exhumed from mass and individual graves in Slovenia.
Bone fragments and teeth were removed from human remains found in several small and closely located hidden mass graves in the Skofja Loka area (Lovrenska Grapa and Zolsce) and 2 individual graves in the Ljubljana area (Podlipoglav), Slovenia. DNA was isolated using the Qiagen DNA extraction procedure optimized for bone and teeth. Some DNA extracts required additional purification, such as N-buthanol treatment. The QuantifilerTM Human DNA Quantification Kit was used for DNA quantification. Initially, PowerPlex 16 kit was used to simultaneously analyze 15 short tandem repeat (STR) loci. The PowerPlex S5 miniSTR kit and AmpF/STR MiniFiler PCR Amplification Kit was used for additional analysis if preliminary analysis yielded weak partial or no profiles at all. In 2 cases, when the PowerPlex 16 profiles indicated possible relatedness of the remains with reference samples, but there were insufficient probabilities to call the match to possible male paternal relatives, we resorted to an additional analysis of Y-STR markers. PowerPlex Y System was used to simultaneously amplify 12 Y-STR loci. Fragment analysis was performed on an ABI PRISM 310 genetic analyzer. Matching probabilities were estimated using the DNA-View software.
Following the Y-STR analysis, 1 of the "weak matches" previously obtained based on autosomal loci, was confirmed while the other 1 was not. Combined standard STR and miniSTR approach applied to bone samples from 2 individual graves resulted in positive identifications. Finally, using the same approach on 11 bone samples from hidden mass grave Zolosce, we were able to obtain 6 useful DNA profiles.
The results of this study, in combination with previously obtained results, demonstrate that Y-chromosome testing and mini-STR methodology can contribute to the identification of human remains of victims of revolutionary violence from World War II.
A World War II mass grave was recovered in 1999 by a U.S. Army team and yielded 20 complete skeletons. A case study involving the identification of one of these individuals is presented in this article. The thought processes and problems that presented themselves to the forensic anthropologist and odontologist are detailed. Methods used to establish identity are described. This case demonstrates how standard operating procedures used by a forensic anthropologist and odontologist can narrow the field of possible individuals associated with remains, and with extra information--in this case, a military radiograph taken in 1941--can ultimately establish the identity of a decedent. The authors learned that some medical records, which at first glance appear to be excess or irrelevant, may contain the item required to be certain that a case is strong in support of a recommended identification.
The etiology of maxillofacial injuries varies from one country to another and even within the same country depending on the prevailing socioeconomic, cultural and environmental factors. Periodic verification of the etiology of maxillofacial injuries helps to recommend ways in which maxillofacial injuries can be averted. The aim of the present study is therefore to analyse the characteristics and trends of maxillofacial injuries in Nigeria based on a systematic review of the literature.
A literature search using MEDLINE was conducted for publications on maxillofacial injuries in Nigeria. The relevant references in these publications were manually searched for additional non-Medline articles or abstracts. Forty-two studies met the inclusion criteria and the full-texts of these articles were thoroughly examined. Due to lack of uniformity and consistency in assessment and measurement variables, and treatment modalities in most of the studies, it was impossible to apply the traditional methods of a systematic review. Therefore, a narrative approach was conducted to report the findings of the included studies.
Although, other causes like assaults, sport injuries, and industrial accidents increased in numbers, throughout the period between 1965 and 2003, road traffic crashes remained the major etiological factor of maxillofacial injuries in all regions, except northeastern region where assault was the major cause. A significant increase in motorcycles related maxillofacial injuries was observed in most urban and suburban centres of the country. Animal attacks were not an unusual cause of maxillofacial injuries in most parts of northern Nigeria. Patients in the age group of 21-30 years were mostly involved. A strong tendency toward an equal male-to-female ratio was observed between earlier and later periods.
Road traffic crashes remain the major cause of maxillofacial injuries in Nigeria, unlike in most developed countries where assaults/interpersonal violence has replaced road traffic crashes as the major cause of the injuries. There is a need to reinforce legislation aimed to prevent road traffic crashes and the total enforcement of existing laws to reduce maxillofacial injuries among children and adults. Special attention should also be paid by the authority to improve the socioeconomic conditions of Nigerian populace.
The human head and face is the target structure of a large number of medical disciplines which are subject to a continuing trend in medical science – 'ongoing fragmentation' or, to use a better established term, 'opening up new fields'. An adverse side effect of this trend is the separation of scientists, which contributes to a breakdown in communication. Specialization is necessary, but who is able to recombine the pieces of knowledge gained in different branches of science? Who is able to trace back an effect to its cause through the whole system? What is the instrument that enables scientists to think 'laterally', or across disciplines?
To be one of these instruments is the vision of Head & Face Medicine. To induce 'intra-interdisciplinary' thinking of scientists by bringing together the findings achieved by different researchers from various specialties, all exploring the same target structure – the human head and face. Head & Face Medicine's objective is to support scientists in gaining new insights from different views, to recognize patterns, to extract new thoughts, to recombine them and bring new visions to life.
Evolving tools like the internet, e-publishing, Open Access and open peer review make Head & Face Medicine a cross between a traditional journal and a data stream which can be queried, analyzed and processed with the aim of increasing medical knowledge in the area of head and face medicine. These tools represent several advantages: fast publication, increase of a paper's scientific impact and ethical superiority.
Head & Face Medicine looks forward to receiving your contributions.
Earlier studies have addressed the human total cranial vault thickness and generally found no correlation with sex, age or body weight. However, the thickness of the diploe has not been investigated. Our study has determined the diploeic thickness of the human cranial vault using modern autopsy material.
The diploeic bone thickness was measured in 64 individuals (43 males, 21 females) autopsied at our institute. The thickness was measured by X-raying biopsies trephined at four specific locations on the skull. Complete medical records and pathologic autopsy results were available.
There was a statistically significant difference in diploeic thickness between males and females in the frontal region only. Diploeic thickness was highly correlated with total cranial vault bone thickness, except for the left euryon in females. Subsequent analyses failed to reveal any correlations between the diploeic thickness and age and height and weight of the individual.
Males overall have a thicker diploe, albeit this difference is statistically significant only in the frontal region. We could not discern any trends as pertains to diploeic thickness versus age, height or weight. Since the thickness of the diploe may be an important parameter in biomechanical modelling of the cranial vault, this means that the diploe can be built into such models based on the total cranial thickness, except for the frontal region where the sexual dimorphism must be taken into account. Our findings are consistent with previous studies relating the total cranial thickness to the same parameters, in that we found a high correlation between diploeic and total cranial thickness (except at the left euryon for females). Finally, we recommend that future studies try to incorporate CT or MR scan imaging, rather than point sampling, in order to achieve a total assessment of the dimensionalities of the diploe.
To present a summary of the organization, field search, repatriation, forensic anthropological examination, and DNA analysis for the purpose of identification of Finnish soldiers with unresolved fate in World War II.
Field searches were organized, executed, and financed by the Ministry of Education and the Association for Cherishing the Memory of the Dead of the War. Anthropological examination conducted on human remains retrieved in the field searches was used to establish the minimum number of individuals and description of the skeletal diseases, treatment, anomalies, or injuries. DNA tests were performed by extracting DNA from powdered bones and blood samples from relatives. Mitochondrial DNA sequence comparisons, together with circumstantial evidence, were used to connect the remains to the putative family members.
At present, the skeletal remains of about a thousand soldiers have been found and repatriated. In forensic anthropological examination, several injuries related to death were documented. For the total of 181 bone samples, mtDNA HVR-1 and HVR-2 sequences were successfully obtained for 167 (92.3%) and 148 (81.8%) of the samples, respectively. Five samples yielded no reliable sequence data. Our data suggests that mtDNA preserves at least for 60 years in the boreal acidic soil. The quality of the obtained mtDNA sequence data varied depending on the sample bone type, with long compact bones (femur, tibia and humerus) having significantly better (90.0%) success rate than other bones (51.2%).
Although more than 60 years have passed since the World War II, our experience is that resolving the fate of soldiers missing in action is still of uttermost importance for people having lost their relatives in the war. Although cultural and individual differences may exist, our experience presented here gives a good perspective on the importance of individual identification performed by forensic professionals.
To present the process of identification of skeletal remains from a mass grave found on a Dalmatian mountain-range in 2005, which allegedly contained the remains of civilians from Herzegovina killed in the World War II, including a group of 8 Franciscan monks.
Excavation of a site in Dalmatian hinterland, near the village of Zagvozd, was accomplished according to archeological procedures. Anthropological analysis was performed to estimate sex, age at death, and height of the individuals, as well as pathological and traumatic changes of the bones. Due to the lack of ante-mortem data, DNA typing using Y-chromosome was performed. DNA was isolated from bones and teeth samples using standard phenol/chloroform/isoamyl alcohol extraction. Two Y-chromosome short tandem repeats (STR) systems were used for DNA quantification and amplification. Typing of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products was performed on an ABI Prism 310 Genetic Analyzer. PCR typing results were matched with results from DNA analysis of samples collected from the relatives of supposed victims--blood samples from the living relatives and bone samples collected during further exhumation of died parents or relatives of the supposed victims.
The remains contained 18 almost complete skeletons, with considerable post-mortal damage. All remains were men, mainly middle-aged, with gunshot wounds to the head. DNA analysis and cross-matching of the results with relatives' data resulted in three positive identifications using the Y-chromosomal short tandem repeat (Y-STR) systems. All of the positively identified remains belonged to the Franciscan friars allegedly killed in Herzegovina and buried at the analyzed site.
Our analysis of remains from a mass grave from the World War II confirmed the value of patrilineal lineage based on Y-STRs, even when missing persons had left no offspring, as is the case with Franciscan monks. Although this report is primarily focused on the identification of remains from a mass grave, it also emphasizes the role of forensic approach in documenting human right violations.
To present the joint effort of three institutions in the identification of human remains from the World War II found in two mass graves in the area of Skofja Loka, Slovenia.
The remains of 27 individuals were found in two small and closely located mass graves. The DNA was isolated from bone and teeth samples using either standard phenol/chloroform alcohol extraction or optimized Qiagen DNA extraction procedure. Some recovered samples required the employment of additional DNA purification methods, such as N-buthanol treatment. Quantifiler Human DNA Quantification Kit was used for DNA quantification. PowerPlex 16 kit was used to simultaneously amplify 15 short tandem repeat (STR) loci. Matching probabilities were estimated using the DNA View program.
Out of all processed samples, 15 remains were fully profiled at all 15 STR loci. The other 12 profiles were partial. The least successful profile included 13 loci. Also, 69 referent samples (buccal swabs) from potential living relatives were collected and profiled. Comparison of victims' profile against referent samples database resulted in 4 strong matches. In addition, 5 other profiles were matched to certain referent samples with lower probability.
Our results show that more than 6 decades after the end of the World War II, DNA analysis may significantly contribute to the identification of the remains from that period. Additional analysis of Y-STRs and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers will be performed in the second phase of the identification project.
The determination of identity and the evaluation of trauma require special consideration when a body suffers extreme levels of damage sustained in a fire. Beginning with the search and recovery of the cremated remains (cremains) and the interpretation of the fire scene, the challenges and practicalities of recovering and analyzing burned remains demand a unique set of skills and expertise. This book provides a synopsis of these challenges and delineates, step-by-step, the recovery and interpretation of cremains from the point of discovery to the end of the analysis.
This chapter discusses the patterned thermal destruction of human remains in a forensic setting. In the rapidly changing world of forensic science, more specifically forensic anthropology, there is a necessity to understand and be able to interpret fire modification of human remains. With the enormous potential for fire and heat alterations to inhibit scientists' abilities to interpret patterns to human remains, burn trauma analysis is inconsistent and has been slow to mature in many disciplines. The destructive forces of fire often significantly alter, damage, or even destroy many recognizable patterns, characteristics, and evidence that we normally depend on. This likely contributes to the existence and persistence of old and untested theories concerning burned bone where inaccurate interpretations, such as exploding skulls, persist for decades, and terminology is inconsistent. In fatal fire cases, forensic anthropologists are responsible primarily for separating perimortem trauma from heat-induced fractures and for assigning temporal and sequential designations to trauma when possible. These findings may contribute to the determination of cause and manner of death, time of death, and perpetrator behavior.
Im Herbst 2003 wurde bei Hamburg das Wrack eines deutschen Kampfflugzeuges aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg vom Typ Junkers Ju 88 entdeckt. Bei den Ausgrabungen wurden auch Überreste eines Menschen und dessen Ausrüstung gefunden. Anhand von Ausweispapieren und aufgrund der Schilderung von Zeitzeugen war eine Identifizierung mit ausreichender Sicherheit möglich. Es handelte sich um den Piloten der Maschine. Bemerkenswerst war der exzellente Erhaltungszustand des linken Ohres mit anhängender Schläfenpartie. Die histologische Untersuchung erlaubte die Abgrenzung von Haut und Hautanhangsgebilden.
Zusammenfassung Untersucht wurden Personen, die im Zweiten Weltkrieg gefallen sind. Die historischen Umstände des Todes wurden mithilfe analytischer
Methoden der forensischen Anthropologie erforscht. Hierbei gelang in 2 von 3 untersuchten Fällen die Identifikation der Personen.
Die Möglichkeiten der Gerichtsmedizin bei Untersuchungen am historischen Material und die Bedeutung der interdisziplinären
Zusammenarbeit sind hervorzuheben.
In recent years, research and case experience have greatly augmented knowledge regarding the effects of extreme heat on skeletal remains. As a result of this effort, enhanced interpretation is now possible on such issues as the extent of recovery, reconstruction, trauma, individual identification, size reduction, thermal effects on histological structures, color variation, the determination if remains were burned with or without soft tissue, DNA recovery and residual weight. The rapidly growing literature in this area of forensic science includes experimental research that elucidates the dynamics of the thermal impact on skeletal structure and morphology.
It might be critical to determine sex, body mass and age of the individual from skull in forensic medicine and anthropology. Our purpose in this study was to evaluate whether a relationship existed between the diploeic bone thickness measured from glabella, bregma, lambda, opisthocranion, and euryon regions and sex, age and body mass index of the individual. Glabella-opisthocranion, vertex-basion, euryon-euryon, basion-opisthion length were also determined for the same purpose. The anthropological landmarks were determined on sagittal and axial T1-weighted sequences and measurements were obtained on a workstation by two radiologists. A total of 107 subjects (F/M:59/48; mean age: 45.05+/-15.28, age range: 21-81) were included in the study. The mean body mass index was 25.51+/-4.44 [17.50-41]. There was a statistically significant linear correlation between age and diploe thickness from glabella, bregma, lambda, opisthocranion, right and left euryon. There was sexual dimorphism in all craniometric data including the distance between glabella-opisthocranion, vertex-basion, euryon-euryon, basion-opisthion, and calvarial volume. There was a statistically significant linear correlation between body mass index and basion-opisthion length. The diploe thicknesses from certain points of the calvarium are statistically related to each other. A standard cerebral MRI examination would be sufficient to obtain anthropological landmarks and craniometric data. According to this study, it might be possible to identify age, sex and body mass index of the individual from diploeic thickness and craniometric data.
During World War II, and particularly the Battle of Berlin, many thousands of civilians and soldiers from a variety of countries were killed. Given the nature of the intense aerial and ground bombardments bodies were often fragmented and buried beneath rubble resulting in many individuals, who were presumed to have been killed, not being identified. Skeletal remains are continually being uncovered in Berlin, particularly with accelerated building developments following German re-unification. A retrospective study was undertaken of records over a 10-year period from 1997 to 2006 to demonstrate the method of processing of skeletal material and to show the results of such analyses. Over the period of the study, 257 cases were investigated (approximately 26 per year). As bones were found in multiple areas at each site, this represented 290 collections of bones from the 257 sites. Only nine complete skeletons were found with a total of 40,344 single or fragmented bones. In 1997, a huge number of bones were unearthed during major construction work at Potsdamer Plaz and the central railway station (Lehrter Bahnof). This gave rise to 29,602 bones and fragments, excluding animal remains. Despite the passage of time, successful identification of remains is still occurring, with 44 individuals positively identified over the 10 years of the study, including eight in 2006.
To date, numerous studies have examined the range of cranial thickness variation in modern humans. The purpose of this investigation is to present a new method that would be easier to replicate, and to examine sex and age variation in cranial thickness in a white sample. The method consists of excising four cranial segments from the frontal and parietal regions. The sample consists of 165 specimens collected at autopsy and 15 calvarial specimens. An increase in cranial thickness with age was observed. The results suggest that cranial thickness is not sexually dimorphic outside the onset of hyperostosis frontalis interna (HFI).
The cranial thickness was measured in 64 individuals (43 males, 21 females) autopsied at our institute. The thickness was measured by taking a biopsy with a trephine at four specific locations on the skull. Complete medical records and pathologic autopsy results were available. While none of the individuals had suffered from diseases affecting bone or bone metabolism as such, a large sub group consisted of individuals with a history of, and autopsy finds consistent with, chronic substance and alcohol abuse. There was no statistically significant difference in cranial thickness measures between this group and the rest of the material. Subsequent analyses failed to reveal any correlations between the cranial thickness and sex and age and height and weight of the individual. This is in accordance with most earlier studies, which likewise show no correlation, or only very faint trends, between cranial thickness and these parameters. This study, thus, adds to other studies showing that cranial thickness cannot be used in aging or sexing human remains. Likewise, in a forensic pathological setting, cranial thickness cannot be inferred from the individuals stature and build, which may be an issue in cases of interpersonal violence with cranial trauma.
Contrary to statements of an eye-witness who reported that Martin Bormann, the second most powerful man in the Third Reich, died on 2 May 1945 in Berlin, rumours persisted over the years that he had escaped from Germany after World War II. In 1972, skeletal remains were found during construction work, and by investigating the teeth and the bones experts concluded that they were from Bormann. Nevertheless, new rumours arose and in order to end this speculation we were commissioned to identify the skeletal remains by mitochondrial DNA analysis. The comparison of the sequence of HV1 and HV2 from the skeletal remains and a living maternal relative of Martin Bormann revealed no differences and this sequence was not found in 1,500 Caucasoid reference sequences. Based on this investigation, we support the hypothesis that the skeletal remains are those of Martin Bormann.
During February and March 2000, human remains were recovered from the Holy Loch, Scotland. Police enquiries identified 13 males that had gone missing, presumed drowned in the Holy Loch or the adjoining lochs, over the previous 35 years. Osteological examination of the remains established they were from a male, aged between 15 and 23 and 168-174 cm tall. This information eliminated ten of the known missing persons. DNA profiles, both STR and mitochondrial were generated from the remains and compared to the profiles generated from relatives of the missing men. A positive match between the unidentified individual and one of the maternal relatives identified the remains as belonging to a US serviceman who had gone missing 35 years ago. The successful identification led to the repatriation of the serviceman's remains.
The study presented here is based on 176 forensic dental reports compiled between 1993 and 2001. The bulk of the research took place in 1997, when major construction at Potsdamer Platz and Lehrter Bahnhof in central Berlin required the excavation of considerable quantities of earth. As building proceeded here, at 'Europe's biggest construction site', it revealed not only a large number of long bones, but also a great many skulls and skull fragments. In five instances, complete skeletons were unearthed. Many of the bones ultimately proved to be of animal origin. The police were not instructed to open a single criminal investigation. Identifying and piecing together the material in this context makes tremendous demands of forensic osteology. Establishing the nature of these finds beyond reasonable doubt, and putting a name and date to them, calls for interdisciplinary co-operation between experts in odontology, anthropology, anatomy, radiology and veterinary medicine, not to mention historians.
Interpreting patterns of injury in victims of fire-related deaths poses challenges for forensic investigators. Determining manner of death (accident, suicide or homicide) using charred remains is compounded by the thermal distortion and fragmentation of soft and skeletal tissues. Heat degrades thin cranial structures and obscures the characteristic signatures of perimortem ballistic, blunt, and sharp force trauma in bone, making differentiation from thermal trauma difficult. This study documents the survivability and features of traumatic injury through all stages of burning for soft tissue reduction and organic degradation of cranial bone. Forty cadaver heads were burned in environments simulating forensic fires. Progression of thermal degradation was photographically documented throughout the destructive stages for soft tissues and bone to establish expected burn sequence patterns for the head. In addition to testing intact vaults, a percentage were selectively traumatized to introduce the variables of soft tissue disruption, fractures, impact marks, and incisions throughout the cremation process. Skeletal materials were recovered, reconstructed, and correlated with photographs to discern burn patterns and survivability of traumatic features. This study produced two important results: (1) Identification of preexistent trauma is possible in reconstructed burned cranial bone. Signatures of ballistic (internal and external bevel, secondary fractures), blunt force (impact site, radiating fractures), and sharp force (incisions, stabs, sectioning) survive the cremation process. (2) In non-traumatized specimens, the skull does not explode from steam pressure but does fragment as a result of external forces (collapsed debris, extinguishment methods) and handling. The features of both results are sequentially described throughout the progression of thermal destruction.
Human identification from burned remains is a common requirement of forensic anthropology, yet the techniques used are devised for use on unmodified bone dimensions. Bone experiences extensive and significant heat-induced alteration which decreases the accuracy and precision of identification methods. An holistic approach to the study of burned bone is adopted and demonstrates the interconnectivity and hierarchy of these changes. It is demonstrated that these changes affect all forms of anthropological technique.
The purpose of this study was to define the variability in skull thickness from location to location and from individual to individual in a large number of human skulls.
Skull thickness was measured in multiple areas of the calvaria in 281 dry skulls from the Hamman-Todd osteological collection (Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, Ohio). A total of 40 points were determined over the frontal, occipital, and parietal bones, with a higher number of points concentrated on the latter. Repeated measures analysis of variance models were used to assess the effects of covariates (individual variables) on skull thickness and location.
A statistically significant pattern of increased thickness toward the posterior parietal bones was seen in all subgroups. The mean thickness of the skull across all locations was 6.32 mm (SEM, 0.07 mm) and ranged from 5.3 mm (SEM, 0.09 mm) to 7.5 mm (SEM, 0.09 mm). Age was not found to be a significant predictor of mean skull thickness. Differences between male and female skulls were greater toward the rear of the parietal bones.
The thickest area of the skull is the parasagittal posterior parietal area in male skulls and the posterior parietal area midway between the sagittal and superior temporal line in female skulls. An accurate map of the skull thickness representing the normative data of the studied population was developed. It is hoped that this topographic map will assist the surgeons in choosing the safest area of cranial bone graft harvest, thus increasing the safety of the procedure.
Münchener Wissenschaftstage 16.–20 Fäden des Lebens: 50 Jahre DNA—Doppelhelix. http://www.rechtsmedizin.med.uni-muench en.de/service/downloads/2003_07_16_wissent_3.pdf
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Anslinger K, Rolf B. Der Fall Martin Bormann. Münchener Wissenschaftstage 16.–20. Juli 2003. Fäden des Lebens: 50 Jahre DNA—Doppelhelix. http://www.rechtsmedizin.med.uni-muench en.de/service/downloads/2003_07_16_wissent_3.pdf. Accessed 21 Sept 2012.
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