Who Is the Skeleton in The Closet? Forensic Anthropology – Human Skeleton Lab Rationale



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Name________________________________ Date______________________
Who Is the Skeleton in The Closet?

Forensic Anthropology – Human Skeleton Lab
Rationale:

Through measurements, observations, and comparison, this lab allows students to determine unique characteristics of a human skeleton, such as height, gender, age, and race.


Materials:

Various bones

Measuring tape or ruler

Calculator


Part 1: Gender Determination

Observe the skull and pelvis and record your results in Data Table 1.


DATA TABLE 1: GENDER DETERMINATION

Feature

Female

Male

Closet Skeleton”

Cranium

Medium to Large

Large




Forehead

High, vaulted, and rounded

Low and sloped backward




Brown bone

Diminished

Pronounced




Mastoid process

Diminished or absent

Pronounced




Mandible angle

Obtuse (>90⁰)

Approximately right (~90⁰)




Pelvis opening

Wide, circular

Narrow, noncircular




Sacrum

Short, wide, and turned outward

Wide/length almost equal, turned inward




Subpubic angle

Approximately right (~90⁰)

Acute (<90⁰)




Overall skeleton (if available)

Slender

Robust





Part 2: Age Determination
The following data will give you a range of ages. Compare your skull to the characteristics listed. If a complete skeleton is available, complete this. Otherwise, leave the bottom section blank.

DATA TABLE 2: AGE DETERMINATION

Age

Skeletal Characteristic

21-30

Lambdoidal suture (rear of cranium) fused

30-32

Sagittal suture (center of cranium) fused

48-50

Coronal suture (front of cranium) fused







4-6

Humerus head bones fused

10

Finger bones fused

18-24

Sternum fused to clavicle

24-30

Sacrum bones fused






Closet Skeleton” Approx. Age







Age Characteristics


































































Part 3: Race Determination

Observe the skull and compare the characteristics in Data Table 3.



DATA TABLE 3: RACE DETERMINATION


Feature

Caucasoid

Mongoloid

Negroid

Closet Skeleton”

Eye orbitals

Oval

Circular

Square




Nasal cavity

Long, narrow

Small, rounded

Wide




Cranium frontal plane

Flat

Flat or projected outward

Projected outward





Part 4: Height Determination
To determine the height of an individual, measure the length of the humerus and femur, and plug the measurements into the equation. Caucasoid and Negroid have different equations, but the equation listed in the table below is for unknown ancestry. Make sure you have already determined gender. Convert height in centimeters (cm) to feet/inches. (2.54cm = 1 inch).


Feature

Female

Male

Humerus

Height (cm) = humerus length (cm) x 4.62 + 19.00

Height (cm) = humerus length (cm) x 4.62 + 19.00

Femur

Height (cm) = femur length (cm) x 3.01 + 32.52

Height (cm) = femur length (cm) x 2.71 + 45.86

“Closet skeleton”:


Humerus length (cm) = ________________ Femur length (cm) = ________________
Calculated height from humerus = ____________(cm)
Calculated height from femur = ___________(cm)
“Closet skeleton” height = _____________________________(ft/in)
Part 5: Final Determinations of the “Closet skeleton”
Gender: ___________________________________________________

Approximate age: _________________________________________


Race: ______________________________________________________
Height: ____________________________________________________
In your opinion, what was the easiest to determine? Why?
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What was most difficult? Why?
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What other characteristics can be used to identify remains?


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