Forensic Anthropology: Stories in Bone

Jackie Smith, Science, William Amos Hough High School

Final Unit(pdf)   Implementing Teaching Standards(pdf)


“Forensic Anthropology: Stories in Bone” is written as a self-contained unit for a high school forensic science course. It could also be adapted for use in an Anatomy and Physiology course. Some material is also appropriate for a Civics or World History course. It covers the formation of bone and the human skeleton. It then examines the characteristics of the skeleton which anthropologists use to identify human remains such as age, gender, race and height. Mitochondrial DNA is studied as a way to identify partial or badly damaged remains. Various case studies are examined from an international perspective. Students learn how to use body measurements and bone features to identify skeletal remains. They then conduct a research project involving a case of genocide and/or crimes against humanity from an anthropological perspective. They prepare arguments for the prosecution or defense of a suspect charged in an international tribunal. The unit culminates with mini-mock trials involving cases from Rwanda, Argentina, Guatemala, the former Yugoslavia and Iraq.