Infographic: Advancing Forensics Science

Forensic scientists have been using rudimentary molecular techniques for decades. But advanced forensic anthropology technologies and methods are just now coming to the fore in some investigations.

Currently approved and accepted forensic anthropology methods include creating a so-called biological profile of a crime victim or set of remains. This involves taking several measurements, especially of skeletal and cranial features, that can indicate age, gender, stature, and even ancestry ...

Over the last decade, forensic scientists have begun to adapt the mass spectrometry used by ecologists, archaeologists, and paleoclimatologists to uncover hidden dynamics or origins using isotopic ratios. Comparing the relative levels of different isotopes of certain elements—for example, strontium, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen—in hair, teeth, or bones with abundances of these isotopes in soils or drinking water can suggest a geographic origin, diet, time of death, or travel history for an individual. For example, levels of 18O—a heavier stable isotope of oxygen than normal 16O—in hair can indicate how closely someone lived to a coastline, because drinking water in those regions is typically more 18O rich than inland areas. Read more.

Tags: Forensics oxygen-16 oxygen-18