Forensic Anthropologist

14 05 2010

Anthropology is the science of human zoology, evolution, and ecology according to the dictionary. Forensic Anthropologists apply the science of physical anthropology to the legal process. They identify skeletal human remains


  • Search and recover human remains
  • Estimate the time since death
  • Does osteological analyses to establish the biological profile of the victim
  • Does pathology assessment from human skeletal remains to figure about if the victim had a trauma or a disease


Forensic anthropologists are called in for death investigation. In solving the crime, anthropologists’ main goal is to create a biological profile. They do so by examining human remains. They use their expertise in doing human skeletal anatomy to do their part of the investigation. The profile, which serves as a critical evidence, is given to the police. They also calculate the recency of the remains that will be used to see how they fit into the general context of the crime scene. They are sometimes called to distinguish the human remains from non-human remains. It is told by people who experienced it that the smell and the sight of decomposing human is just unbearable.

The skull is the most diagnostic area for building a biological profile. The biological profile includes age, sex, ancestor, height, and whether the deceases had a disease. When creating a biological profile of a human being, first you determine the sex of the victim. You will have to examine the brow ridges to figure out the sex. Females’ tend to be less robust than males’. You can also look at the rear of the skull. There is this bun looking region there. This is also more robust in males. The cranial suchers, the top of the skull, can help determine the age of the deceased. The older the person gets, the cranial suchers become diffused together more tightly. The teeth can be also used. If one has the third molar, it indicates that that person was an adult. DNA is also preserved in teeth better than in bones. However, when dealing with forensics, hair, tissue, skin, and other parts of the body will be more useful in DNA analysis.

This video explains what I have explained above about skeleton analysis in depth.

Forensic anthropologists do not work full time, because they mostly work with colleges and provide consultation. Almost all of them are professors of biological or physical anthropology with Ph.Ds. If you are considering to become a forensic anthropologist, you should look at this aspect of the job and reconsider.

An anthropologist integrate many other subjects to do their job. They need to know osteology, which includes skeletal anatomy and biology, in details. They also need to know bits of biology, archaeology, genetics, and cultural aspects. To become a forensic anthropologist, Undergrad majors in Human Biology or Physical Anthropology are recommended. Physical Anthropology is preferred. You will need to cover hominid physiology, anatomy, and other anthropology classes. Then, obtaining masters degree is your next step. Ph.D specializing in forensic anthropology is preferred. Becoming a forensic anthropologist is a long tiring career. One has to withstand the smell and the pain of seeing a decomposing human being. In the United States, there are only about 150 active forensic anthropologists. However, it is rewarding.

The forensic anthropologists earn $40,000 to $50,000 if they have MA/MS degree. If they have a Ph.D, they earn about $60,000 to $85,000. However, it mostly depends on your skills, experience, and responsibility, like all other forensic jobs. You have to constantly work hard to get this job.