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Just Science Podcast: Just Skeletal Remains Identification

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2020
1 page

This second episode of the 2020 R&D Season of the National Institute of justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Dr. Heather Garvin, Associate Professor of Anatomy at Des Moines University, who discusses her work with OSTEOID, an online resource for species identification of skeletal remains.


Background information for the interview indicates that approximately 30-40 percent of skeletal remains received by forensic anthropologists are of animals. Forensic anthropologists can use their specialized knowledge to determine whether the remains are human. Dr. Garvin and her team are in the process of developing a free, practical, and user-friendly online tool that will assist forensic anthropologists, death investigators, crime-scene personnel, and law enforcement investigators identify the species of skeletal remains. In her interview, Dr. Garvin discusses her professional background as a forensic anthropologist. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, the state of Iowa employs her as a consultant when the knowledge and skills of a forensic anthropologist is required. She identifies species from bones, the individual characteristics of a person based on bone analysis, environmental influences on the bones since death, and any indication on the bones of the circumstances of the death. Her work with OSTEOID thus far has led to the development of photos and measurements for the bones of 28 species. The website for this project is being developed.

Date Published: March 1, 2020