The Mystery of the Bones


  • Understand what a forensic anthropologist does
  • Reconstruct 4 "unknown" skeletons
  • Determine the age, sex, height of the "unknowns"
  • Investigate forensic art and its application in finding missing persons
  • Determine the identities of the 4 "unknowns"



STEP 1 - Background

Visit the following sites to gain an understanding of forensic anthropology and what bones (or remains) can tell you about the deceased. Be prepared to take a quiz when you are finished.

Questions to consider (be prepared for these on your quiz)

Written in Bones - Skeleton Keys (
2. How can bones be used to determine age?
3. How three points on a skeleton are used to determine gender?
4. What bone is commonly used to determine height?

Forensic Facial Reconstruction (

1. How are facial reconstructions made using a skull? What are the limitations of these reconstructions? What materials are used?

You should visit these sites individually. When finished, rejoin your group to compare your answers andthen take the quiz.


Investigative Techniques of Forensic Anthropology (

Mouse over the skeleton to answer these..

1. What can the teeth tell you about the deceased?
2. How can the skull be used to determine age?
3. How is the pelvis of a female different from the pelvis of a male?
4. The hand bones can help you determine what about the deceased?

Forensic Anthropology (

1. Compare the skull bones of individuals from different races, how do they differ?

2. How does the type of bone determine the look of a bullet's entry and exit wound to the skull?

Facial Reconstruction (

View the steps involved in creating a sculpture of the deceased

1. What is a tissue depth marker?
2. Why is determining the shape of the nose and ears difficult for a sculptor?
3. How does it help to use both three dimensional and two dimensional reconstruction?

Explore Forensics( ) - most can be found at the link: Analyzing the body

1. What is the first thing a forensic scientist looks at to identify a deceased?
2. Where is the most accurate place to take the body temperature? Suppose a body is found and its temperature is recorded at 34 degrees celcius, how long has the body been dead?
3. Why might a corpse be exhumed?
4. What insect is used to determine time of death? What type of scientist studies these insects?
5. What is rigormortis and how long does it last?
6. What is lividity?
7. What are the four categories of death?

When you have reviewed all of the links and feel confident (know the answers to the questions) see your teacher to get the quiz.



Step 2 - The Scene







Teacher Resources