forensic anthropology | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Investigations

Forensic anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that applies the principles and methods of physical anthropology to legal investigations, particularly in the analysis of human remains.

Forensic anthropologists work to identify human remains and determine the cause and manner of death, and they may also be called upon to help identify individuals based on physical characteristics.

Forensic anthropologists use a variety of techniques to study human remains, including osteology (the study of bones), forensic taphonomy (the study of how remains degrade over time), and forensic archaeology (the recovery and analysis of human remains from archaeological contexts). They may also use techniques from other disciplines, such as forensic entomology (the study of insects associated with human remains) and forensic DNA analysis, to assist with the identification and analysis of remains.

Forensic anthropologists may work in various settings, such as medical examiners’ offices, forensic laboratories, universities, or consulting firms. They may also provide expert testimony in criminal trials, where they are called to share their findings and interpretation with the court.

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Last Modified: 01/11/2023


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