Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $20,000)
The ability to estimate body mass from the skeleton represents an intellectual gap in forensic death investigations which involve unidentified skeletal remains. The objective of this project is to combine biomechanical and morphometric methods, with data collected using four different procedures: high resolution computed tomographic (CT) scans, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), radiography and macroscopic osteological analysis to improve estimates of body mass index. The research will evaluate a sample set consisting of 250 modern individuals of known age, weight, height and occupation from the William M. Bass Donated Skeleton Collection at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The analysis will include cross-sectional geometry of the human tibia and femur at five locations along the shaft, size and shape analysis of the joint articulations of the femur and tibia, bone mineral density calculations of the proximal tibia and a macroscopic evaluation of osteoarthritic and other degenerative changes of the articulations of the hip, knee, ankle and foot. A large cross-sectional area of the femoral midshaft and greater density are hypothesized to correspond with a high body mass index (BMI) and a reduced cortical area and reduced density as seen in osteoporosis will correspond to a decrease in BMI.