Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Meradeth Snow

Commitee Members

Dr. Kirsten Green Mink, Dr. Bret Tobalske


forensic, anthropology, bone anatomy


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology


Species identification is one of the first steps in the analysis of bone fragments in both forensic and archaeological contexts. Current methods for human vs. non-human taxa identification include morphoscopic, histological, and DNA analyses in order to determine forensic significance and assess what is present in an assemblage. This study will use an MA1000 AmScope camera microscope to examine the longitudinally fractured surface of cortical bone fragments to gauge if non-destructive taxa identification is possible from fragmentary remains without morphologically identifying features. This method is testing for a notable difference in human vs. bovid vs. cervid endosteal cortical bone without the use of destructive, histological cross-sections. The results of this study show there is a statistically significant association with positive bone identification between taxa, an accuracy measure of 65.6% for all taxonomic groups, 96.2% accuracy of identifying human bone correctly, and 7.9% misidentification of non-human bone as human. Expanding further on these results have implications for both forensic and archaeological contexts as an affordable, non-destructive analysis of fragments of various sizes when morphological identification isn’t possible.



© Copyright 2019 Haley N. O'Brien