Forensic anthropologists are experts in analyzing human remains and for this reason are integral to a number of different types of forensic investigations. Oftentimes, forensic anthropologists are called on after mass disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis in order to assist in identifying human remains. They are also used at crime scenes to help recover evidence.
Forensic anthropologists are educated in osteology, or the study of bones. Using this knowledge, a forensic anthropologist can look at human remains and determine how the person died; whether it was suicide, homicide, accidental, or from natural causes. Using human bones the forensic anthropologist can determine the age of the individuals, the sex, the height, the type of occupation they worked in and the overall health status at the time of death. This information can lead crime scene investigators to their identities is as well as how they died.
Forensic anthropology is a specialization within the anthropology field. The first step in becoming a forensic anthropologist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Undergraduates focus on taking classes in a wide variety of areas such as archaeology, cultural and physical anthropology, and science classes such as genetics, anatomy, and chemistry. Mastering osteology, ethno botany, and dentition is important for someone who wishes to be successful in this career. A master’s degree or Ph.D. in forensic anthropology is necessary to find a job within the field.
There are two main categories of forensic anthropologists, academic and applied. Those employed in the academic world work in colleges and universities teaching classes and performing individual research projects. The number of projects a forensic anthropologist works on in the academic area will depend on the university he/she works for. Forensic anthropologists working in the applied field may work with a law enforcement agency, a coroner’s office, or...
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