The Fascinating World of Forensic Science: 5 Surprising Facts

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Photo courtesy of le.ac.uk.

Forensic science is a world filled with mystery, intellect and instinct. During a forensic investigation, every morsel of evidence discovered could be crucial, and no detail is too small. It truly is a fascinating science, and here are five captivating facts that will ignite your imagination

Forensic Science Has a Long History

There is evidence that forensic analysis was used around 44 B.C when Julius Caesar’s private physician conducted an autopsy of Caesar’s body after his assassination. The physician was named Antistius, and he was able to determine which wounds to Caesar caused his ultimate demise. The forensic discovery of which wounds led to his death, allowed the investigators to determine who used the fatal weapons.

In 1235 A.D, a book was written in China called “The Washing Away of Wrongs.” The author details the account of a murder being solved due to flies gathering on a sickle. Supposedly, the investigator was able to determine there was dried (practically invisible) blood on the sickle, and that the flies gathered on the sickle to feed off the blood. The investigator’s revelation of this fact led to the confession of the murderer.

Forensic Methods are Not Foolproof

If you watch enough television, you would think that a criminal’s days are numbered if there is any forensic evidence linking them to the crime. The reality is, however, that forensic data is wrong sometimes. Not a lot. But sometimes. Two common methods of forensic evidence used to convict a person are fingerprinting and bullet ballistics.

Fingerprinting

Prior to the advent of the modern automated fingerprinting system, well-trained experts would manually match the fingerprints lifted at a crime scene with those of the accused. This would often entail endless hours of looking through hard copies of fingerprints. Modern methods have made this process much more efficient and accurate. The fingerprint search and match can be completed within minutes (sometimes seconds.) Although the days of sifting through thousands of records to find a match are gone, even the most experienced forensic analyzer will admit that there still is no statistical guarantee that the  matching of fingerprints is 100% accurate.

Bullet Ballistics

With respect to bullet ballistics, the process goes like this. Each gun has a unique surface within its barrel. When the gun is fired, the bullet flies through the barrel and is imprinted by its unique grooves. The bullet then impacts an object, and is therefore damaged. So, when the ballistics investigator conducts the  investigation, they must use a meticulously, precise technique to match the damaged bullet with the correct gun. But, before that can occur, the investigators first have to find the bullet and the alleged gun. There is a lot of work, which requires extreme attention to detail. Thus, it is evident that even the smallest miscalculation can lead to an inaccurate match.

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Photo courtesy of scitechconnect.elsevier.com.

Head of Information

A highly efficient method used by forensic scientists in identifying a person’s remains is a process called cranial morphology. People that hail from different regions of the world oftentimes have different shaped skulls. The different features are generally found in the face and palate areas of the cranium.

Forensic anthropologists will examine a skull and be able to determine if the person’s ancestry is of European, African, Native American or Asian descent. The scientific method is generally 85% accurate in determining the racial ancestry of the remains.

Crime Solving Bugs

Well, maybe bugs do not really solve a crime, but investigators do study the little critters to determine certain elements of a mystery. The science behind this is known as forensic entomology, which is essentially the study of insects at crime scenes.

For example, the materials found inside a maggot’s stomach can lead investigators down the right path to figuring out how long a body has been decomposing. Moreover, a particular insect’s “activity time” at a crime scene can aid scientists in determining the time in which the crime occurred. Also, as certain bugs are only indigenous to certain locations, investigators can narrow the place of the crime based on the insects present on the possibly relocated corpse.

Your Mouth Hides the Clues

When it comes to precise identification, your teeth are usually the most reliable method used by forensic investigators. In fact, teeth are used to accurately identify the remains of a body in over 93% of these type of cases.

Teeth are made from the same material as bones, and each person’s dental imprint is unique. So, you combine the durability of bones with the unique character of each person’s teeth, and the end result is precision.

We have all seen movies in which the charred remains of a person are identifiable simply because of their teeth. But, dental imprints can be used in more subtle methods as well. For example, the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy was excellent at alluding law enforcement. His intelligence and cunning made him a worthy adversary. His downfall however was the bite marks he left on the butt of one of his victims. The forensic investigators were able to match his teeth to the bite marks on the murder victim. This crucial piece of evidence led to his eventual conviction.

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Forensic science is such an interesting field, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to share all of this information with you. Continue to check out my blog for more updates on forensic science, criminology, and the world of criminal justice.

 

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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