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Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment

ISBN: 978-1-118-95332-7
542 pages
April 2017, Wiley-Blackwell
Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment (1118953320) cover image

Description

A truly interdisciplinary approach to this core subject within Forensic Science

  • Combines essential theory with practical crime scene work
  • Includes case studies
  • Applicable to all time periods so has relevance for conventional archaeology, prehistory and anthropology
  • Combines points of view from both established practitioners and young researchers to ensure relevance
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Table of Contents

List of Contributors xix

Notes on Contributors xxvii

Foreword xxix

Acknowledgements xxxi

Introduction 1
Eline M.J. Schotsmans, Nicholas Márquez-Grant and Shari L. Forbes

I.1 Efremov: from Taphonomy to Science Fiction 1

I.2 The Meaning of Taphonomy 2

I.3 The Rationale Behind this Volume 3

I.4 Challenges in Forensic Taphonomy 4

I.5 Organisation of the Volume 6

References 7

Part I General Post-Mortem Processes: Degradation of Soft Tissue, Bone and Associated Materials 9

1 Gross Post-Mortem Changes in the Human Body 11
Stuart J. Hamilton and Michael A. Green

1.1 Introduction 11

1.2 The Immediate Post-Mortem Period 11

1.3 Subsequent Weeks 16

1.4 Other Post-Mortem Modifications 16

1.5 Skeletonisation 22

1.6 Conclusion and Future Research 22

References 23

Cited court cases 25

2 Microscopic Post-Mortem Changes: the Chemistry of Decomposition 26
Shari L. Forbes, Katelynn A. Perrault and Jenna L. Comstock

2.1 Introduction 26

2.2 Autolysis 27

2.3 Putrefaction 27

2.4 Factors Affecting Autolysis and Putrefaction 31

2.5 Impact of the Decomposition Process on the Surrounding Environment 32

2.6 Conclusion 35

References 35

3 Profiling Volatile Organic Compounds of Decomposition 39
Pierre-Hugues Stefanuto, Elien Rosier, Jan Tytgat, Jean-François Focant and Eva Cuypers

3.1 Introduction 39

3.2 Matrices and Sampling Methods 40

3.3 Results and Discussion 46

3.4 Conclusion and Future Research 49

References 50

4 Blood Degradation and Bloodstain Age Estimation 53
Gerda J. Edelman and Maurice C.G. Aalders

4.1 Introduction: Forensic relevance of bloodstains 53

4.2 Blood Degradation 54

4.3 Mechanical and Morphological Changes 55

4.4 Optical Methods 55

4.5 Practical Implementation 59

4.6 Crime Scene Challenges of Bloodstain Age Estimation 60

4.7 Conclusion 62

References 62

5 DNA Degradation: Current Knowledge and Progress in DNA Analysis 65
Claudio Ottoni, Bram Bekaert and Ronny Decorte

5.1 Introduction 65

5.2 Mechanisms of DNA Degradation 65

5.3 Preservation of DNA: Recommendations Concerning Sampling and Storage 68

5.4 Methodologies to Analyse Degraded DNA 70

5.5 Future Prospects 74

5.6 Conclusion 75

References 75

6 Taphonomic Alterations to Hair and Nail 81
Andrew S. Wilson

6.1 Introduction 81

6.2 Structure of Hair and Nail 82

6.3 Changes to Hair and Nail 83

6.4 Processing and Storage of Hair 87

6.5 Conclusion 87

Acknowledgements 88

References 88

7 Taphonomy of Teeth 92
Christopher W. Schmidt, Robin Quataert, Fatma Zalzala and Ruggero D’Anastasio

7.1 Introduction 92

7.2 Mechanical Damage: Forensic Case Study 93

7.3 Effects of Thermal Damage 94

7.4 Thermal Damage: Archaeological Case Study 95

7.5 Caveats 97

7.6 Conclusion 98

References 98

8 The Taphonomy of Natural Mummies 101
Dario Piombino-Mascali, Heather Gill-Frerking and Ronald G. Beckett

8.1 Introduction 101

8.2 Post-Mortem Decay 102

8.3 Natural or Spontaneous Mummification 102

8.4 Soft Tissue Changes 103

8.5 Environment, Culture or Both? 104

8.6 Dry Environments 104

8.7 Bog Environments 109

8.8 Cold Environments 110

8.9 Anaerobic Environments 112

8.10 Differential Decomposition 113

8.11 Post-Depositional Factors and Taphonomic Impact 114

8.12 Conclusion 116

References 116

9 Degradation of Clothing in Depositional Environments 120
Barbara H. Stuart and Maiken Ueland

9.1 Introduction 120

9.2 The Structures and Properties of Clothing Materials 120

9.3 Decomposition Mechanisms of Clothing Materials in Depositional Environments 124

9.4 The Influence of Clothing on the Decomposition Processes 127

9.5 Forensic and Archaeological Studies of Clothing Degradation 128

9.6 Protocols for Forensic and Archaeological Clothing Collection and Analysis 130

9.7 Conclusion and Future Research 131

References 131

10 Post-Mortem Interval Estimation: an Overview of Techniques 134
Tal Simmons

10.1 Introduction 134

10.2 Why Estimating the PMI is Important 134

10.3 Scientific Method versus Anecdote in PMI Estimation 135

10.4 Methods for Estimating PMI 137

10.5 Case Example 139

10.6 Conclusion and Future Research 140

References 141

Part II The Depositional Environment 143

11 Relationships between Human Remains, Graves and the Depositional Environment 145
Emily N. Junkins and David O. Carter

11.1 Introduction 145

11.2 The Taphonomy of Buried Human Remains 145

11.3 Factors that Influence Decomposition: Environmental and Intrinsic Variables 146

11.4 Decomposition Processes: Autolysis, Putrefaction and Decay 149

11.5 The Forensic Application of Taphonomy 150

11.6 Conclusion 151

References 152

12 Bacterial Symbionts and Taphonomic Agents of Humans 155
Franklin E. Damann

12.1 Introduction 155

12.2 Bacterial Growth and Metabolism 156

12.3 Limiting Factors of Bacterial Growth and Function 156

12.4 Bacteria as Symbiotic Organisms 158

12.5 Bacteria as Taphonomic Agents 159

12.6 Putrefaction 159

12.7 Microbiology in Forensic Medicine 161

12.8 Conclusion 163

References 164

13 Forensic Entomology and Funerary Archaeoentomology 167
Stefano Vanin and Jean-Bernard Huchet

13.1 Introduction 167

13.2 Insects: Useful Information for Forensic Scientists and Archaeologists 168

13.3 Forensic Entomology and the Application of Insect Knowledge in Forensic Contexts 175

13.4 Insects Recovered from Graves or Associated with Human Remains in Archaeological Contexts 176

13.5 Body Alteration at the Crime Scene as a Result of Insect Activity 179

13.6 Bone Modifications due to Insect Activity 181

13.7 Conclusion 181

Acknowledgements 182

References 182

14 Forensic Botany and Stomach Contents Analysis: Established Practice and Innovation 187
Jennifer Miller

14.1 Introduction 187

14.2 Forensic Applications of Botany 187

14.3 Conclusion 197

References 198

15 The Effects of Weathering on Bone Preservation 201
Soren Blau

15.1 Introduction 201

15.2 A Brief History of Weathering Studies 201

15.3 Variables that Influence Weathering 202

15.4 The Value of Bone Weathering Analyses in Forensic Investigations 204

15.5 Conclusion 208

Acknowledgements 208

References 208

16 The Effects of Terrestrial Mammalian Scavenging and Avian Scavenging on the Body 212
Alexandria Young

16.1 Introduction 212

16.2 Terrestrial Mammalian Scavengers 213

16.3 Avian Scavengers 225

16.4 Applications to Crime Scene Investigation 226

16.5 Conclusion and Future Research 227

References 228

17 Decomposition in Aquatic Environments 235
Barbara H. Stuart and Maiken Ueland

17.1 Introduction 235

17.2 Decomposition Processes in Aquatic Environments 236

17.3 Post-Mortem Submersion Interval 239

17.4 Factors Influencing Aquatic Decomposition Processes 240

17.5 Case Reports and Studies 244

17.6 Recovery Protocols 246

17.7 Conclusion and Future Research 247

References 247

18 Post-Mortem Differential Preservation and its Utility in Interpreting Forensic and Archaeological Mass Burials 251
Caroline Barker, Esma Alicehajic and Javier Naranjo Santana

18.1 Introduction 251

18.2 Assessment of Taphonomic Change in Forensic and Archaeological Contexts 251

18.3 The Study of Taphonomy in Forensic and Archaeological Contexts 253

18.4 Taphonomic Assessment in Mass Burial Deposits 256

18.5 Taphonomic Processes and Differential Preservation in Mass Burials: Current Research and Application 258

18.6 Case Study 1: Differential Preservation of Human Remains and Artefacts in Archaeological Mass Graves of the Same PMI and its Utility to Establish Differences in Burial Environments over Time 262

18.7 Case Study 2: Differential Preservation of Human Remains in Forensic Mass Graves and its Use as an Evidentiary Tool 264

18.8 Conclusion and Future Research 266

Acknowledgements 267

References 267

19 Reconstructing the Original Arrangement, Organisation and Architecture of Burials in Archaeology 277
Dominique Castex and Frédérique Blaizot

19.1 Introduction 277

19.2 The Reconstruction of Perishable Funerary Architecture and its Arrangement 278

19.3 Analysis of Several Individuals in the Same Pit 284

19.4 Conclusion 294

Acknowledgements 294

References 295

Part III Anti-, Peri- and Post-Mortem Modifications to the Body 297

20 Forensic Toxicology of Decomposed Human Remains 299
Richard Lloyd and Julie Evans

20.1 Introduction 299

20.2 Toxicological Matrices 301

20.3 Case Study 307

20.4 Conclusion and Future Research 311

References 311

21 Thermal Alteration to the Body 318
Tim J.U. Thompson, David Gonçalves, Kirsty Squires and Priscilla Ulguim

21.1 Introduction 318

21.2 Soft Tissue Changes 318

21.3 Hard Tissue Changes 319

21.4 Conclusion and Future Research 328

References 329

22 Concealing the Crime: the Effects of Chemicals on Human Tissues 335
Eline M. J. Schotsmans and Wim Van de Voorde

22.1 Introduction 335

22.2 Corrosive Substances: Definitions and History 336

22.3 The Effect of Corrosive Substances on Human Tissues: Case Examples 337

22.4 Research on Corrosive Agents and Decomposition 341

22.5 Case Study: The Pandy Case 343

22.6 Conclusion 347

Acknowledgements 347

References 348

23 Distinguishing between Peri- and Post-Mortem Trauma on Bone 352
Cristina Cattaneo and Annalisa Cappella

23.1 Introduction 352

23.2 Peri- and Post-Mortem Trauma 352

23.3 Alternative Solutions for Distinguishing Between Peri- and Post-Mortem Trauma on Bone 362

23.4 Conclusion 365

References 365

24 Collection Care and Management of Human Remains 369
Rebecca C. Redfern and Jelena J. Bekvalac

24.1 Introduction 369

24.2 Collection Origin and Deposition 369

24.3 Collection Management 371

24.4 Conclusion 378

Acknowledgements 379

References 379

Part IV Case Studies 385

25 The Use of Volatile Fatty Acid Biomarkers to Estimate the Post-Mortem Interval 387
Arpad A. Vass

25.1 Introduction 387

25.2 Methods and Collection 387

25.3 Conclusion 393

References 393

26 A Taphonomic Study Based on Observations of 196 Exhumations and 23 Clandestine Burials 394
Roosje de Leeuwe and W.J. Mike Groen

26.1 Introduction 394

26.2 Background on the Exhumations Carried out by the NFI 394

26.3 Variables 395

26.4 Cemetery versus Clandestine Burials 400

26.5 Conclusion 401

References 401

27 Case Studies on Taphonomic Variation between Cemetery Burials 402
Karl Harrison and Emily Cline

27.1 Introduction 402

27.2 Burial Taphonomy: Examples of Cemetery Burials 402

27.3 Conclusion 407

References 408

28 Forensic Entomology Case Studies from Mexico 410
Leonardo R. Flores Pérez, Humberto Molina Chávez, Manuel Nava Hernández and Fray M. Pérez Villegas

28.1 Introduction 410

28.2 Case Study from Mexico City 410

28.3 Case Studies from Hidalgo State 414

28.4 Conclusion 417

References 417

29 Recovery of Skeletonised Human Remains and Textile Degradation: a Case Study 420
Rob C. Janaway and Nicholas Márquez-Grant

29.1 Introduction 420

29.2 Outdoor Recovery of Skeletonised Human Remains 420

29.3 Case Study 422

29.4 Conclusion 426

Acknowledgements 428

References 428

30 Saponified Brains of the Spanish Civil War 429
Fernando Serrulla, Francisco Etxeberría, Lourdes Herrasti, José Luis Cascallana and Julio Del Olmo

30.1 Introduction: the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) 429

30.2 Two Mass Graves 429

30.3 Methods and Materials 431

30.4 Results: Taphonomic Factors and Brain Analysis 431

30.5 Discussion and Conclusion 434

Acknowledgements 436

References 436

31 Analysis and Interpretation of Burned Human Remains from a Homicide 438
Anne Coulombeix and Yves Schuliar

31.1 Introduction 438

31.2 Background to the Case 438

31.3 Physical Evidence Recovered at the Crime Scene 439

31.4 Additional Experiments 440

31.5 Discussion 442

31.6 Conclusion 443

Acknowledgements 443

References 443

32 A Soldier’s Story: Forensic Anthropology and Blast Injury 445
Marie Christine Dussault, Martin Brown and Richard Osgood

32.1 Introduction 445

32.2 Background and Case History 445

32.3 Condition of the Remains and Inventory 446

32.4 Analysis Results 448

32.5 Discussion 449

32.6 Conclusion 451

References 451

33 Decomposition in an Unusual Environment: Body Sealed in Concrete 452
Maria Cristina de Mendonça

33.1 Introduction 452

33.2 Case Report 452

33.3 Discussion and Conclusion 453

34 A Case Study from Los Angeles: Baby in Concrete 454
Chelsea Parham and Elissa Fleak

34.1 Introduction 454

34.2 Background to the Case 454

34.3 External Examination 455

34.4 Internal Examination 457

34.5 Discussion 458

34.6 Conclusion 459

References 459

Part V Past, Present and Future Considerations 461

35 History and Development of the First Anthropology Research Facility, Knoxville, Tennessee 463
Giovanna M. Vidoli, Dawnie W. Steadman, Joanne B. Devlin and Lee Meadows Jantz

35.1 Introduction 463

35.2 History of the ARF 463

35.3 Daily Operations of the FAC 465

35.4 Research at the ARF 468

35.5 Training Opportunities at the ARF 470

35.6 Conclusion 471

References 472

36 Crime Scene Investigation, Archaeology and Taphonomy: Reconstructing Activities at Crime Scenes 476
W.J. Mike Groen and Charles E.H. Berger

36.1 Introduction 476

36.2 CSI Fundamentals 478

36.3 The Archaeological Paradigm 480

36.4 Assessing Archaeological Assemblages and Site Formation Processes 483

36.5 The CSI Practice, an Archaeological and Criminalistic Perspective 484

36.6 Conclusion 490

Acknowledgements 491

References 491

Index 495

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