Learning Modules are sets of materials from real forensic cases used to help describe morphologies and damages useful in forensic anthropology. The skeletons presented within these modules are from unidentified individuals.
Estimation of age at death is an important component to the reconstruction of life of a skeleton. In archaeology, knowing the age of death of individuals can infer much about an ancient civilization in terms of health, disease, and sacrifice. Likewise, in forensics cases, the age of an individual is crucial to correct identification.
Within the field of Forensic Anthropology, specialists have created categories of classification that allow them to identify the race of individuals for law enforcement records and reports. However, these racial categories are more bureaucratic in nature, as opposed to scientific or anthropological, and are generally used to classify individuals for legal reasons.
Pathology, or diseases, sometimes leave markings on bones that may be useful in determining the health of an individual.
Determining the biological sex is often one of the first steps in identifying remains.
The long bones of the arm and leg, either in their entirety or as fragments, can be used to estimate the height of an individual. Height estimations are variable by population and age, and can be an important factor in identification of remains.
Taphonomy refers to postmortem damage of a bone due to exposure to various natural and animal forces. Individuals placed below or above ground will often be scarred or marked, and sometimes even broken, because of the environmental processes to which they are subjected. Some of those forces include animal activity, burial damage, fire damage, mineral absorption, and weathering, to name a few.