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Shark-Inflicted Trauma: A Case Study of Unidentified Remains Recovered from the Gulf of Mexico

Authors

  • Maria T. Allaire M.A.,

    1. Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, 227 Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.
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  • Mary H. Manhein M.A.,

    1. Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, 227 Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.
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  • George H. Burgess M.S.

    1. International Shark Attack File, Florida Program for Shark Research, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
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  • Presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 16–21, 2009, in Denver, CO.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Maria Allaire, M.A.
Louisiana State University
Department of Geography and Anthropology
227 Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
E-mail: mallaire@lsu.edu

Abstract

Abstract:  Here, we present a case of an unidentified male whose remains, except for the right arm, were recovered from the Gulf of Mexico 10 years prior to osteological analysis by forensic anthropologists. After the poorly preserved soft tissue was removed and the bones cleaned, forensic analysis revealed an unusual series of hard tissue trauma later attributed by a shark expert as shark scavenging and/or predation. Identified were five unique hard tissue trauma patterns that are bite mark artifacts produced by sharks: punctures without fractures, punctures with associated fractures, striations with bone shaving, overlapping striations, and incised bone gouges. The cooperation among experts provided a comprehensive death case analysis and a better understanding of shark-inflicted trauma on human skeletal remains.

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