Skeletal changes after post-mortem exposure to fire as an indicator of decomposition stage

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dc.contributor.advisor L'Abbe, Ericka Noelle
dc.contributor.coadvisor Steyn, Maryna
dc.contributor.postgraduate Keough, Natalie
dc.date.accessioned 2014-06-17T13:09:47Z
dc.date.available 2014-06-17T13:09:47Z
dc.date.created 2014-04-11
dc.date.issued 2013 en_US
dc.description Thesis (PhD)--University of Pretoria, 2013. en_US
dc.description.abstract Forensic anthropologists and taphonomists are often tasked with interpreting the sequence of events from death through decomposition to skeletonisation. Discovery of burnt bone often evokes questions as to the condition of the body prior to the burn event. The purpose of this study was to evaluate features of thermal damage on bones in relationship to the condition of the bone (dry/wet) and progression of decomposition. Twenty-five pigs in various stages of decomposition (fresh, early, advanced, early & late skeletonisation) were exposed to fire for 30 minutes. The skeletal elements were scored and features included: colour change (unaltered, charred, calcined), brown and heat borders, heat lines, delineation, greasy bone, joint shielding, predictable and minimal cracking, delamination and heatinduced fractures. Colour changes were scored according to a ranked percentage scale (0 – 3) and the remaining traits as absent or present (0/1). Cohen’s Kappa statistics evaluated intraand interobserver error. Density plots and frequency distributions were constructed and multiple regression (categorical variables) and transition analysis were employed. The majority (8) of the 13 traits displayed potential to predict decomposition stage from burned remains. An increase in calcined and charred bone occurred synchronously with an advancement in decomposition. The organic composition of bone and presence of flesh affect the characteristics features of burned bone. Greasy bone occurred most often in the early/fresh stages (fleshed bone). Heat borders, heat lines, delineation, joint shielding, predictable and minimal cracking were associated with wet tissue/bone; whereas brown burn/borders, delamination and other heat-induced fractures were associated with early and late skeletonisation. No statistically significant differences were noted among observers for the majority of the traits except for predictable and minimal cracking and heat-induced fractures in the cranium. Heat-induced changes may assist in estimating decomposition stage from unknown, burnt remains and thereby aid in a providing an indication as to the condition of the bone prior to the burn event. en_US
dc.description.availability unrestricted en_US
dc.description.department Anatomy en_US
dc.description.librarian gm2014 en_US
dc.identifier.citation Keough, N 2013, Skeletal changes after post-mortem exposure to fire as an indicator of decomposition stage, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd <http://hdl.handle.net/2263/40277> en_US
dc.identifier.other D14/4/100/gm en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/40277
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher University of Pretoria en_ZA
dc.rights © 2013 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria. en_US
dc.subject Taphonomy en_US
dc.subject Burned bone en_US
dc.subject Patterned thermal destruction en_US
dc.subject Transition analysis en_US
dc.subject Heat-induced changes en_US
dc.subject UCTD en_US
dc.title Skeletal changes after post-mortem exposure to fire as an indicator of decomposition stage en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US


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