Volume 46, Issue 3 (May 2001)
Analysis of Distortion in Preserved Bite Mark Skin
In addition to other methods for conservation of bite mark evidence, preservation of actual skin from deceased victims is often suggested. This study was undertaken to analyze the dimensional stability of such specimens. Utilizing a prefabricated template, marks approximating “bites” were made in postmortem skin of Miniature Hanford pigs, producing imprints with distinct margins and indentations. Tissue samples were stored in 10% formalin after affixing an acrylic support ring with cyanoacrylate adhesive and sutures. Measurements of the six tooth mark analogues and cross-arch dimensions were taken at intervals of up to 38 days.
Data from these measurements indicate a wide range of amount and type of distortion in preserved tissue. Although some samples were dimensionally stable, there was both contraction and expansion of bite mark specimens, even within individual skin samples. It appears that standard techniques for storage and preservation of bite mark samples will not produce reliable dimensional accuracy.