Laboratory Techniques Used For Forensic Anthropology

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Laboratory techniques used in forensic anthropology to identify questionable remains as bone include histology, protein analysis, and DNA analysis. The problem with these techniques is that they can be destructive, lengthy, and expensive. Additionally, these methods may not be able to identify bone when it is highly fragmented or altered. Therefore, chemical analysis techniques such as HHXRF, XRF, SEM/EDS, PIXE, and Raman Spectroscopy have been proposed for differentiating bone and teeth from non-skeletal material and human from nonhuman skeletal material. Although their use is sporadic and dependent on instrument availability, these chemical techniques have proven valuable to the field of forensic anthropology and to the task of identifying human remains.
Depending on the bone or location on the bone, there will be a difference in trace elements present. Zn, V, Ni, Cr, Pb, Mn, Co, and Sn are found in higher concentrations in bone epiphyses while Ca, Sr, Na, and K are found more often in the central portion of the diaphysis. This could potentially tell what bone the anthropologist has obtained if it is a fragmented piece. Diet and growth environment also have an impact on the distribution of trace elements within bone. While this is useful in identification, research is also being conducted to establish past dietary habits by using isotope analysis to detect specific trace element ratios associated with dietary patterns to gain a better understanding of the past. There are
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