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SEM and Stereomicroscopic Analysis of Cut Marks in Fresh and Burned Bone

Authors

  • Rebecca J. Kooi B.Sc. (Hons.),

    1. Department of Forensic Science, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
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  • Scott I. Fairgrieve Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Founding Chair, Department of Forensic Science, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
    • Department of Forensic Science, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
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  • Presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 21–26, 2011, in Chicago, IL.

Additional information and reprint requests:

Scott I. Fairgrieve, Ph.D.

Department of Forensic Science

Laurentian University

935 Ramsey Lake Road

Sudbury, ON P3E 2C6

Canada

E-mail: sfairgrieve@laurentian.ca

Abstract

This study documents the prevalence of cut mark characteristics in fresh and burned domestic pig ribs. Stab wounds from single edge serrated and smooth-edged knives were inflicted in the vertebral and sternal regions of each fresh rib. Each rack of ribs was then divided into vertebral and sternal units. Vertebral units were defleshed and their associated cut marks were examined using a stereomicroscope. Sternal units were burned in an outdoor fire pit and examined with the addition of a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Linear cuts, V-shaped cross-sections, mounding, hinge fractures, and wastage were all observed on burned ribs. There was an overall decrease in the prevalence of all features (up to a 40% decrease), regardless of knife type, in burned ribs. Striations within cut marks were not observed in either fresh or burned ribs. Oblique faulting and bone lifts could only be observed using the SEM. Mounding and wastage were obliterated during the burning process. Therefore, cut marks in burned bone should ideally be examined for their characteristics utilizing an SEM.

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