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What Do Forensic Anthropologists Do?

Forensic anthropologists are commonly portrayed in the media as forensic scientists and/or crime scene technicians, but this is not accurate. Forensic anthropologists deal strictly with the human remains. While some people trained in forensic anthropology are also trained in evidence collection techniques, most forensic anthropologists only specialize in techniques related to analysis of the remains or bones only.

Generally, forensic anthropologists DO NOT do any of the following:

  • Collect trace evidence (hair, fibers)
  • Run DNA tests
  • Analyze ballistics or weapon evidence
  • Analyze blood spatter
  • Conduct autopsies

What a forensic anthropologist DOES do to aid in a case:

  • Goes to a crime scene to assist in the collection of human remains
  • Cleans up the bones so that they may be looked at
  • Analyzes skeletal remains to establish the profile of the individual
  • Looks at trauma evident on the bones to establish the pathway of a bullet or the number of stab wounds
  • Works with a forensic odontologist (dentist) to match dental records
  • Testifies in court about the identity of the individual and/or the injuries that might be evident in the skeleton

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