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Virtual anthropology? Reliability of three-dimensional photogrammetry as a forensic anthropology measurement and documentation technique

Omari, Rita Kemunto (2019) Virtual anthropology? Reliability of three-dimensional photogrammetry as a forensic anthropology measurement and documentation technique. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Establishing the identity of unknown remains is a vital role of forensic anthropology. While establishing identity is generally straightforward due to conventional methods of identification like DNA analysis, sometimes these methods are not applicable in the case of remains that are heavily skeletonized, severely decomposed or severely charred. In such instances, a forensic anthropologist will be called upon.

The role of the forensic anthropologist is to aid in the identification of remains when conventional methods such as DNA and fingerprinting are not applicable. They may also be required to collaborate with other experts like forensic odontologists in order to attain a positive identification. A number of methods are available to the anthropologist that can aid in achieving identification: comparative radiography, nonimaged records, craniofacial superimposition, dental comparison and craniofacial reconstruction. All the methods except nonimaged records require imaging, either in two dimensions or three dimensions.

Three-dimensional imaging is quickly becoming a vital tool for reconstruction, comparison, and analysis in forensic science. It has found applications in road accident reconstruction, facial reconstruction, comparison of patterned injuries to the injury-inflicting instruments, and anthropometry. The main three-dimensional imaging methods utilized in the forensic field are photogrammetry, laser scanning and radiological scanning (computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)), with forensic three-dimensional/computer aided design (3D/CAD)-supported photogrammetry being the method that is primarily used due to its low cost, rapid results, does not need expertise to operate, has no radiation risks and, above all, the record is permanent. Regardless of this, CT and MRI are more established methods and are widely used in a variety of industries.

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the three-dimensional imaging methods currently employed in forensic science on the basis of reliability, reproducibility, and accuracy; with an ultimate aim of validating photogrammetry as an analytical and documentation method of forensic science.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
United Nations SDGs: Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Supervisor(s): Chapman, Brendan, Coumbaros, John and Hunt, Cahill
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