The Center for Human Identification's Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology
What is Forensic Anthropology?
As defined by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology to the legal process. The identification of skeletal, badly decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains is important for both legal and humanitarian reasons. Forensic anthropologists apply standard scientific techniques developed in physical anthropology to identify human remains, and to assist in the detection of crime. Forensic anthropologists frequently work in conjunction with forensic pathologists, odontologists, and homicide investigators to identify a decedent, discover evidence of foul play, and/or the postmortem interval. In addition to assisting in locating and recovering suspicious remains, forensic anthropologists work to suggest the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and unique features of a decedent from the skeleton.
The Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology has provided anthropological services to the medicolegal community since 1986. Currently, the laboratory analyzes 100-150 forensically significant cases each year with the majority of cases submitted by law enforcement agencies and medical examiner offices. Recently, the laboratory has joined the DNA Identification Laboratory to form the Center for Human Identification, providing a unique approach to remains analysis and identification in which anthropological and molecular analyses are combined when investigating skeletal remains cases.
Photographs courtesy of Angilee Wilkerson, UNT URCM