Navigation Links
New forensics research will help identify remains of children

New research from North Carolina State University is now giving forensic scientists a tool that can be used to help identify the remains of children, and may contribute to resolving missing-persons cases, among other uses. Identifying skeletal remains can be a key step in solving crimes, but traditionally it has been exceptionally difficult to identify the skeletal remains of children.

"The key finding in our research is that children's faces attain the shapes they will have in adulthood much earlier than previously thought," says Dr. Ann Ross, an associate professor of anthropology at NC State and lead author of the new study. This finding is important because physical anthropologists use the shape of the skull to examine similarities and differences between populations, such as between Eastern Europeans and Mediterranean populations. This means that forensic experts can help identify the ancestry of skeletal remains in much younger individuals than is currently the case.

For example, Ross was able to use these findings to examine the remains of an unidentified 10-year-old boy, whose body was found in 1998, and determine that he was of Mesoamerican origin. That finding gives investigators additional information on the cold case, which can be used for facial reconstruction, among other things.

Until now, anthropologists relied solely on the remains of people who were at least 18 years old when studying the craniofacial (i.e. skull) characteristics of different populations. Similarly, forensic analysts did not attempt to assess the ancestry of remains belonging to people under the age of 18.

But the researchers have found that the population-specific traits that can be measured in the skull are actually present and can be measured at least as early as the age of 14. "These findings can likely be applied to much younger remains as well," Ross says, "but we did not have a large enough sample size to include younger kids in this paper."

One of the things that made this work possible was the use of shape analysis, relying on "geometric morphometrics" which is a field of study that characterizes and assesses biological forms. Geometric morphometrics has led to the development of software, statistical tools and research methods that enabled the researchers to examine shape differences in the skulls of children and adults.

"In the past," Ross says, "this was impossible because traditional techniques for measuring craniofacial characteristics relied on calipers which introduced size as a confounding variable." In other words, it was impossible to compare the small skulls of children to the larger skulls of adults.

The researchers collected craniofacial measurements from the remains of children between the ages of 14 and 16. The researchers then ran the data through modeling software and additional statistical analyses to determine whether children differ significantly from adults in terms of the craniofacial markers that identify a given population.

In addition to forensic applications, the findings also represent a breakthrough for physical anthropologists studying past civilizations. Because craniofacial characteristics are used to examine differences between populations, these findings can help anthropologists advance our understanding of how populations have moved or changed over time. The study shows that anthropologists can now use the remains of children to help get a snapshot of what the population looked like in a specific area they are no longer limited to using the craniofacial remains of adults.


Contact: Matt Shipman
North Carolina State University

Related biology news :

1. Center for Computer Forensics Offers Expert to Volunteer as CFCE Certification Applicants Coach
2. Salient Stills Notches Significant Advances in Profitability, Diversity of Sales and Customers, and Video Forensics Technology in 2008
3. Nottinghamshire Police First Law Enforcement Agency to Deploy ForensicSoft in United Kingdom
4. Research shows skeleton to be endocrine organ
5. Newly created cancer stem cells could aid breast cancer research
6. Dominant cholesterol-metabolism ideas challenged by new research
7. Researchers identify proteins involved in new neurodegenerative syndrome
8. Texas researchers and educators head for Antarctica
9. MGH researchers describe new way to identify, evolve novel enzymes
10. University of Pennsylvania researchers develop formula to gauge risk of disease clusters
11. University of Oregon researcher finds that on waters surface, nitric acid is not so tough
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New forensics research will help identify remains of children
(Date:11/20/2015)... Connecticut , November 20, 2015 ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... CEO, Gino Pereira , was recently interviewed on ... interview will air on this weekend on Bloomberg ... Latin America . --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... 2015  Based on its in-depth analysis of the ... with the 2015 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for ... presents this award to the company that has developed ... of the market it serves. The award recognizes the ... on customer base demands, the overall impact it has ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... 19, 2015  Although some 350 companies are actively ... a few companies, according to Kalorama Information. These include Roche ... the market share of the 6.1 billion-dollar molecular testing ... Market for Molecular Diagnostic s .    ... still controlled by one company and only a handful ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds ... organisation (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing to ... margins but higher volume share for the region ... scale, however, margins in the CRO industry will ... Market ( ), finds that the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced Dr. Bruce ... Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished service ... , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass pathology in the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 ... executives will be speaking at the following conference, and ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ...      Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) ... New York on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 ... president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. th ... at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . Jim ... provide a corporate overview. --> th Annual Oppenheimer ...
Breaking Biology Technology: