Volume 35, Issue 3 (May 1990)
Independent Instances of “Souvenir” Asian Skulls from the Tampa Bay Area
In the summer of 1984, police in Pinellas County, Florida, confiscated six identically colored imported Asian skulls (in a shipping case) from a private citizen. In May 1988, in nearby Hillsborough County, police confiscated a very similar skull from another private citizen, who allegedly had found it in an abandoned house. Aside from slight color differences between the six found in Pinellas County and the one found in Hillsborough County, the skulls are virtually identical in their osteological characteristics and condition and in the vital statistics derived from each. Each skull is as clean and dry as those typically sold by commercial scientific supply outlets in the United States. Each is edentulous (primarily premortem), between approximately 20 and 60 years of age at death, and morphologically Asian. Five of the seven are morphologically male, one is morphologically female, and one is a mosaic with respect to gender-related features. Police, medical examiners, coroners, and forensic anthropologists should be aware of such “souvenir” specimens, in the event that they encounter similar skulls. Discriminant function analyses for race and sex yield considerably conflicting results, which underscores the need for using extreme caution when interpreting forensic science estimates based on such techniques.