Mes: agosto 2017

A Path to America, Marked by More and More Bodies

FACTS and Operation Identification are featured on the front page of the NY Times.

“Over 16 years, the Border Patrol documented 6,023 deaths in the four states bordering Mexico, more than the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina combined.”

“When we get them, we assign them a case number because we have to have a way of tracking cases, but no one deserves to be just a number,” said Timothy P. Gocha, a forensic anthropologist with Operation Identification, a project at Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Center that analyzes the remains and personal items of the immigrants to help identify them. “The idea is to figure out who they are, and give them their name back.”

SAN MARCOS, TEX. — Case 0435 died more than a mile from the nearest road, with an unscuffed MacGregor baseball in his backpack. Case 0469was found with a bracelet, a simple green ribbon tied in a knot. Case 0519 carried Psalms and Revelation, torn from a Spanish Bible. Case 0377 kept a single grain of rice inside a hollow cross. One side of the grain read Sara, and the other read Rigo.

The belongings are part of a border-crossers’ morgue at a Texas State University lab here — an inventoried collection of more than 2,000 objects and 212 bodies, the vast majority unidentified.

All 212 were undocumented immigrants who died in Texas trying to evade Border Patrol checkpoints by walking across the rugged terrain. Most died from dehydration, heatstroke or hypothermia. Even as the number of people caught trying to illegally enter the United States from Mexico has dropped in recent months, the bodies remain a constant, grim backdrop to the national debate over immigration.

“When we get them, we assign them a case number because we have to have a way of tracking cases, but no one deserves to be just a number,” said Timothy P. Gocha, a forensic anthropologist with Operation Identification, a project at Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Center that analyzes the remains and personal items of the immigrants to help identify them. “The idea is to figure out who they are, and give them their name back.”

The collection in San Marcos represents only a fraction of the total deaths. Hundreds of immigrants have died crossing the border in Texas in recent years, and hundreds of others have died in the three other states that share a border with Mexico — Arizona, California and New Mexico.

In South Texas, the number of deaths has overwhelmed some local officials and made the grisly discovery of decomposing bodies a commonplace occurrence. The body count since 2014 stands at nine at one ranch, 17 at another and 31 at a third. A former governor of Texas, Mark W. White Jr., called the authorities in 2014 after he found part of a human skull on a quail-hunting trip near a Border Patrol checkpoint.

“It was an awful thing,” said Mr. White, 77. “The first question that was asked of us was, ‘Is the body fresh?’ The lady who was answering the call said, ‘We can’t pick him up today because we have three fresh ones we have to pick up today.’


Forensic analysis of remains and other remains can be complemented by three-dimensional (3D) scanning. Among the available methods, we highlight the short distance photogrammetry, which consists of extracting 3D geometric information from photographic images. The objective of this study was to compare five scanning systems (Photoscan, 123dCatch, ReCap360, PPT-GUI and OpenMVG + MVS) regarding the operability and quality of 3D meshes generated from 42 photographs of a dry skull taken with a smartphone. Two ABFO # 2 metric scales were positioned close to the skull. After processing, the resulting 3D point clouds were converted into 3D and / or textured meshes when needed, and resized on a 1: 1 scale. The number of vertices and faces has been recorded. Soon afterwards, all regions that were not part of the skull itself were cut out and again the number of faces and vertices was recorded. For operability, it was evaluated the processing time, need to connect to the Internet, functionality limited by unpaid version, automatic texturing, among other parameters. For quality, the meshes were also evaluated in their visual aspect and in their quantitative aspect of vertices and faces. Although the use of two identical scales has generated artifacts, all programs have generated adequate three-dimensional meshes, with some differences in the final result and operation. Each tool has obtained satisfactory results within its particularities. This technique has been constituted as a precise and low cost alternative, with applicability in the field and / or laboratory, that can improve the quality of the production of the tests.

Anthropological analysis of projectile trauma to the bony regions of the trunk

Ballistics literature often focuses on soft tissue injures and projectile trauma to the cranium. Minimal details on the bony characteristics of projectile trauma to the thorax/abdomen regions have been published. This study aims to analyse projectile trauma to the bony trunk region including the ribs, vertebrae, scapula, sternum and the hip bone to form a better understanding of the characteristics and biomechanics of skeletal trauma caused by a projectile and contribute to the existing database on skeletal trauma caused by projectiles. Fourteen cases of documented projectile trauma to the bony regions of the trunk from the Hamman-Todd Human Osteological Collection at the Cleveland Natural History Museum, Ohio were analysed. Of the 14 individuals with gunshot wounds examined, 40 wounds occurred to the bones. Twenty- four injuries to the ribs, 1 ilium, 11 vertebrae, 3 scapulae, and 1 sternum. Fracture patterns, heaving and bevelling can be used to determine the direction of travel of the projectile which can be evident on the ribs, sternum, scapula and ilium. It is critical to understand the wounding patterns associated with projectile trauma to the torso region as this is often targeted, due to being the centre of mass.

Anthropological analysis of projectile trauma to the bony regions of the trunk. Available from: [accessed Aug 24, 2017].



Morphological Study: Ultrastructural Aspects of Articular Cartilage and Subchondral Bone in Patients Affected by Post-Traumatic Shoulder Instability


Post-traumatic shoulder instability is a frequent condition in active population, representing one of most disabling pathologies, due to altered balance involving joints. No data are so far available on early ultrastructural osteo-chondral damages, associated with the onset of invalidating pathologies, like osteoarthritis-OA. Biopsies of glenoid articular cartilage and sub-chondral bone were taken from 10 adult patients underwent arthroscopic stabilization. Observations were performed under Transmission Electron Microscopy-TEM in tangential, arcuate and radial layers of the articular cartilage and in the sub-chondral bone. In tangential and arcuate layers chondrocytes display normal and very well preserved ultrastructure, probably due to the synovial liquid supply; otherwise, throughout the radial layer (un-calcified and calcified) chondrocytes show various degrees of degeneration; occasionally, in the radial layer evidences of apoptosis/autophagy were also observed. Concerning sub-chondral bone, osteocytes next to the calcified cartilage also show signs of degeneration, while osteocytes farther from the osteo-chondral border display normal ultrastructure, probably due to the bone vascular supply. The ultrastructural features of the osteo-chondral complex are not age-dependent. This study represents the first complete ultrastructural investigation of the articular osteo-chondral complex in shoulder instability, evaluating the state of preservation/viability of both chondrocytes and osteocytes throughout the successive layers of articular cartilage and sub-chondral bone. Preliminary observations here collected represent the morphological basis for further deepening of pathogenesis related to shoulder instability, enhancing the relationship between cell shape and microenvironment; in particular, they could be useful in understanding if the early surgical treatment in shoulder instability could avoid the onset of OA. Anat Rec, 300:1208–1218, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


From Biography to Osteobiography: An Example of Anthropological Historical Identification of the Remains of St. Paul


In the identification process of historical figures, and especially in cases of Saint’s bodies or mummified remains, any method that includes physical encroachment or sampling is often not allowed. In these cases, one of the few remaining possibilities is the application of nondestructive radiographical and anthropological methods. However, although there have been a few attempts of such analyses, no systematic standard methodology has been developed until now. In this study, we developed a methodological approach that was used to test the authenticity of the alleged body of Saint Paul the Confessor. Upon imaging the remains on MSCT and post-processing, the images were analyzed by an interdisciplinary team to explore the contents beneath the binding media (e.g., the remains) and to obtain osetobiographical data for comparison with historical biological data. Obtained results: ancestry, sex, age, occupation, and social status were consistent with historical data. Although the methodological approach proved to be appropriate in this case, due to the discrepancy in the amount of data, identity could not be fully confirmed. Nonetheless, the hypothesis that the remains do not belong to St. Paul was rejected, whilst positive identification receives support. Anat Rec, 300:1535–1546, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Bite Marks, An Identifying Evidence Coming to an End?


For a long time, bitemarks have been recognized as fundamental evidence and occasionally the only proof, to convict many suspects of having committed a crime. In recent years, several courts of Justice of the United States have been analyzing and reviewing cases where bitemarks where the only evidence in which the conviction of the accused was based on.
In simple terms, bitemarks as forensic evidence can be defined as the process where forensic odontologists (dentists) try to match dental marks that were found at the crime scene or victims’ body with the dental structure of a particular suspect.
According to the California Innocence Project program, in 1992 Ray Krone was convicted of murder and sentenced to the death penalty, despite the fact that the accused claimed innocence. In that case, the only evidence was a bitemark found on the body of the victim. Despite the verdict, Krone continued his struggle from jail achieving 10 years later that the Court again analyzed his case. On this occasion the Court again requested testimony. A forensic dentist realized that their skills were lacking scientific value and were not really reliable. After that, the Court requested DNA analysis evidence proving that Krone was not responsible for the killing and released him in 2002.

At the beginning of September 2016, after several studies, the White House’s Panel of experts in Forensic matters confirmed that bitemarks on skin needed more studies that support its scientific validation, providing this transcendental conclusion:
“…finds that bitemark analysis does not meet the scientific standards for foundational validity, and is far from meeting such standards. To the contrary, available scientific evidence strongly suggests that examiners cannot consistently agree on whether an injury is a human bitemark and cannot identify the source of bitemark with reasonable accuracy.”

Inside the grisly morgue where Italian pathologists try to identify the bodies of migrants who have drowned at sea – using the contents of their pockets and labels on their clothes.

More than 459 body bags containing the remains of unknown people pulled from the Mediterranean are being stored at the Labanof laboratory in Milan, where staff carry out detailed tests to identify the corpses. The remains were took to the laboratory after the Italian Navy brought the wreck of a makeshift migrant ship to the surface after it sunk in April 2015. They found bodies packed in almost unimaginably close quarters and they filled 458 body bags. Many contained the remains of more than one person. Autopsies are now being carried out at the morgue and forensic pathologist Cristina Cattaneo predicts they will analyse some 700 bodies. She added that all of the victims have so far been men and boys, mostly between the ages of 12 and 17.

How it works: As one of several methods of what are called “biometric” identification systems, facial recognition examines physical features of a person’s body in an attempt to uniquely distinguish one person from all the others. Other forms of this type of work include the very common fingerprint matching, retina scanning, iris scanning (using a more readily observable part of the eye) and even voice recognition. All of these systems take in data – often an image – from an unknown person, analyze the data in that input, and attempt to match them to existing entries in an database of known people’s faces or voices. Facial recognition does this in three steps: detection, faceprint creation, and verification or identification. When an image is captured, computer software analyzes it to identify where the faces are in, say, a crowd of people. In a mall, for example, security cameras will feed into a computer with facial recognition software to identify faces in the video feed. Once the system has identified any potential faces in an image, it looks more closely at each one. Sometimes the image needs to be reoriented or resized. A face very close to the camera may seem tilted or stretched slightly; someone farther back from the camera may appear smaller or even partially hidden from view. When the software has arrived at a proper size and orientation for the face, it looks even more closely, seeking to create what is called a “faceprint.” Much like a fingerprint record, a faceprint is a set of characteristics that, taken together, uniquely identify one person’s particular face. Elements of a faceprint include the relative locations of facial features, like eyes, eyebrows and nose shape. A person who has small eyes, thick eyebrows and a long narrow nose will have a very different faceprint from someone with large eyes, thin eyebrows and a wide nose. Eyes are a key factor in accuracy. Large dark sunglasses are more likely to reduce the accuracy of the software than facial hair or regular prescription glasses. A faceprint can be compared with a single photo to verify the identity of a known person, say an employee seeking to enter a secure area. Faceprints can also be compared to databases of many images in hopes of identifying an unknown person.

Facial Recognition Is Increasingly Common, but How Does It Work?facial-recognition

An Egyptian pharaoh who ruled 4,700 years ago could be the world’s oldest case of gigantism found, archaeologists have revealed. At six foot one the skeleton, believed to belong to King Sanakht who ruled during the third Dynasty, would have towered over the average Egyptian who was on average five foot four. Researchers say the strange find could be due to gigantism, a hormonal condition that results in abnormal, excessive growth. The six foot one Pharaoh who could be the world’s oldest case of Gigantism Remains believed to belong to King Sanakht who ruled during the third Dynasty He would have towered over the average 5 foor 4 Egyptian Believed he suffered from the hormonal condition

pharaoThe six foot one Pharaoh who could be the world’s oldest case of Gigantism