Here are two case scenarios where the assistance of a forensic anthropologist would be necessary:
A hunter is in the woods and comes across what he thinks is a human skull. He marks the area and goes to get police to bring them back to the area. A forensic anthropologist might be called to assist in determining first of all if the remains are in fact human. If the remains are human then the anthropologist can assist law enforcement with the collection of the remains at the scene. Typically the anthropologist would photograph the remains prior to removal and also make a pictorial view or site map of the area so that if need be the scene could be recreated later. During the scene work the anthropologist would work with other crime scene specialists who might be interested in other evidence that cold be found at the scene such as weapons, blood, DNA, etc. Forensic anthropologists can then look at the bones to establish a profile of the remains including the age, sex, ethnicity, height, time since death, and trauma. If the police have a missing person in mind, the forensic anthropologist can then work with the medical examiner and forensic odontologist to determine if the identity is a match.
A forensic pathologist is presented with partially decomposed remains of an individual and the identity has already been established. However, there is evidence of multiple traumatic injuries (example: gun shot wounds and/or knife wounds) that occurred close to the time of death and the state of the remains prevents the pathologist from being able to fully understand the extent of the trauma to the remains. The forensic anthropologist aids the pathologist by cleaning the bones and looking closely at them to determine the number and type of traumatic episodes. Through their analyses the forensic anthropologist is able to identify multiple types of traumatic injury, potentially an important factor in the trial.