4 research outputs found

    Burn, Chop, Drown: A Forensic Analysis of Taphonomic Effects on Bone

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    This research focuses on building a comparative collection of the taphonomic impacts of fire on bone. The methodology is to use deer limb bones as a proxy for human limb bones to demonstrate how fire can influence the color of bone in a zooarchaeological setting while simultaneously duplicating a hasty and controlled burn in a forensic context. Using experimental archaeology, tracking temperature, and duration of time under heat, I will create a comparative collection to highlight the specific colors bone changes to when exposed to different specific temperatures. In the forensic context, a hasty burn is to replicate a desperate attempt at hiding evidence. The controlled burn simulates a premeditated action at hiding evidence. The resulting altered bones for both experiments will be used as teaching aids for future students. The vessel used for burning to reproduce the forensic conditions is an aluminum garbage can modified into a burn barrel. The burn vessel used for burning in a zooarchaeological context is a propane grill. The grill allows us to control for temperature and compare findings to prior research. Temperature will be taken using the Tekcoplus Thermocouple-4 channel-thermometer that allows us to directly measure the fire in the burn barrel. Temperature will be taken every 15 minutes and recorded. The propane grill has a built-in thermometer, which will be used to take and record heat exposure ranging from 300F to 700F. These temperatures reflect previously documented ranges at which bone color changes from yellow to black to blue to white. I will burn two fleshed deer hind limbs in the burn barrel in two different trials and then six de-fleshed deer tibiae in the propane grill in three different trials. This project is significant because it will provide additional information about how bone responds to different thermal stressors

    Decomposition Rates in Freshwater vs. Saltwater

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    This research project uses an experimental approach to address forensic questions about the difference in rate of decomposition between aquatic environments while controlling for insect activity. The data collected from this research will help to further knowledge about how different aquatic environments affect post mortem interval. The experiment will involve submerging whole bodied fleshed rabbits into freshwater and saltwater to analyze the rate of decomposition over a period of six weeks. I will submerge two rabbits in containers of saltwater and two in containers of freshwater. The freshwater will be samples from Lake Michigan and the saltwater will be made by dissolving 35 grams of salt per liter of water to simulate average ocean salinity. To further simulate the differing environments, the freshwater containers will be kept in a location roughly the temperature of the water when it is collected, and the saltwater containers will be kept around room temperature (~70 degrees F). The water temperature will be tracked using a thermometer at each check-in on average every other day. To control for and prevent insect activity, I will place lids on the containers the rabbits are placed in. I will track the five stages of decomposition, recording the characteristics and visual appearance on average every other day. I will be taking photos that correlate with the notes taken about the progression of decomposition. This project will focus on the initial stages of decomposition, and additional work will further track the decomposition of these animals beyond the six week study period