Volume 48, Issue 6 (November 2003)
Bilateral Fractures of the Coronoid Processes: Differential Diagnosis of Intra-Oral Gunshot Trauma and Scavenging Using a Sheep Crania Model
Approximately half of the skeleton of an adult male (minus the cranium) was found in a forested part of Greater Vancouver, Canada, in August 2000 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Authorities ruled the death as suicide. The only compelling signs of perimortem trauma were symmetrically fractured coronoid processes of the mandible, which can be attributed to a gunshot in the mouth. However, the remains had also been scavenged by canids, raising a problem in differential diagnosis. Could canid scavenging produce bilateral fracturing of the mandible indistinguishable from gunshot wounds to the mouth? We found that canid scavengers could not mimic the type of damage to the mandible caused by intra-oral gunshot wounding using a sheep model (n = 20). Bilateral fracturing of the coronoid processes was found to be characteristic of intra-oral gunshot wounding, while canid scavengers typically ignore this region of the mandible.