The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Identifying the source of bone marks via optical profilometry 3D images

SEBASTIAN K.T.S. WÄRMLÄNDER1,2,3 and JACKSON NJAU4.

1Division of Biophysics, Stockholm University, 2Division of Commercial and Business Law, Linköping University, 3Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA/Getty Conservation Programme, University of California in Los Angeles, 4Geological Sciences and Geoanthropology, Indiana University

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Differentiating cut marks, tooth marks, trampling marks, tool marks, et cetera in bones is a long-standing problem in forensic and biological anthropology. In this controlled experiment, we first subjected animal bones to a) cutting with a steel knife; b) cutting with a stone tool, and c) chewing by crocodiles. We then documented the resulting markings in a stage light microscope equipped with a Wyko NT3300 Optical Profilometer, which records in 3D the topography of a small surface area. The 3D profiles of the various marks were found to display significant differences that are not captured with traditional microscopy, or even with high-resolution imaging techniques such as electron microscopy. We conclude that 3D images of bone marks, obtained via optical profilometry, appear to be highly useful for identifying the source of the marks.

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