The FBI Laboratory Division's New Forensic Anthropology Program

By Christensen, Angi; Thomas, Richard | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, August 2010 | Go to article overview

The FBI Laboratory Division's New Forensic Anthropology Program


Christensen, Angi, Thomas, Richard, The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


The FBI's Laboratory Division is pleased to announce a new service: forensic anthropology, the analysis of human skeletal remains in a medico-legal context. It is a branch of physical anthropology concerned with the interpretation of skeletal features that may be shared among groups, reflect an individual's life history, make a person unique, or indicate how and when someone may have died.

The Forensic Anthropology Program (FAP), a subgroup of the Trace Evidence Unit (TEU), began its pilot year in April 2010. The FAP was established to provide both laboratory analysis and field assistance for cases involving skeletal remains. Like other FBI Laboratory services, forensic anthropological examinations are provided free of charge to duly constituted law enforcement agencies in support of investigative and intelligence priorities. The FAP is currently staffed by two full-time forensic anthropologists.

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Laboratory analyses that FAP anthropologists can conduct include

* determination of whether or not suspect material is bone;

* examination of whether bones are human or nonhuman;

* resolution of commingling (if more than one body/skeleton is present);

* estimation of a deceased's age, sex, ancestry, and stature;

* analysis of skeletal trauma, including projectile, blunt force, sharp force, and burning;

* identification of skeletal features that may help lead to identification;

* confirmation of identity by comparison to medical records; and

* assistance with facial approximations prepared by forensic artists. …

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