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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • forensic anthropology;
  • bone mineral;
  • heated bone;
  • species identification;
  • X-ray diffraction

Abstract:  The characterization of inter-species variation in bone mineral (b-HAP) is of relevance to forensic science and archeology, but has not previously been widely explored. Results of an investigation into unheated bone mineral and behavior of bone upon heating for 12 animal species (including human) demonstrate that b-HAP characteristics, quantitatively measured using X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis, exhibit significant inter-species variation. Human bone was found to be significantly different to all other species in terms of b-HAP lattice parameter values from unheated and heated bone and in terms of recrystallization behavior of b-HAP upon heating bone to 600°C. The amounts of b-HAP thermal decomposition products were also significantly different for human bone heated to 1400°C compared to those obtained for most other species. Therefore, there is potential for the development of an XRD-based method of species identification, particularly one that distinguishes human from non-human bone.