Volume 30, Issue 2 (April 1985)
Case Involving Differentiation of Deer and Human Bone Fragments
In a recent Louisiana forensic anthropology case, it was necessary to attempt species identification of six small bone fragments. The primary concern was whether or not they matched the fractured humerus of a woman killed by two shotgun blasts and then disposed of in the Mississippi River. These tiny fragments were recovered by law enforcement officers inside a jeep pickup and at the gas station where the vehicle had been cleaned. The police suspect claimed that these fragments were from a deer that he had recently killed. The small size of the pieces precluded positive recognition of human versus nonhuman origin based upon gross morphology and cortical thickness. Microscopic examination was possible. This analysis involved comparison of the unknown specimens to reference deer and human thin sections including bone recovered from the woman during autopsy. Examination of the jeep and gas station fragments revealed no plexiform bone, secondary (not primary) osteons, and variability in size and shape of the osteons and Haversian canals. These and other variables identified the bone fragments as human.