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Back in the cycle: A review of the taphonomy of biomineralised tissues

Lutze, Ashleigh (2022) Back in the cycle: A review of the taphonomy of biomineralised tissues. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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After death, bones and teeth, biomineralized tissues composed of an organic and an inorganic part, are often the last remaining structures of an organism. The processes that affect biological tissues post-mortem is collectively defined as taphonomy. Forensic taphonomy studies the post-mortem modifications of remains in relation to a variety of physical, chemical, or biological agents, with the aim of assisting forensic investigations. Current research has typically focused on taphonomic effects observed in single depositional environments. This review summarizes the to-date information on the known taphonomic agents present across five depositional environments (burial, subaerial exposure, aquatic environments, burnt and frozen remains), and the effects generated on biomineralized tissues. Taphonomy is a relatively new sub-discipline of forensic anthropology and includes several areas where research is limited, such as the taphonomic processes in frozen and aquatic environments and the post-mortem alterations of teeth. As more research is conducted, the benefit of incorporating forensic taphonomy into forensic investigations have become increasingly evident. Each depositional environment features a range of characteristic taphonomic effects, which may be used to generate an accurate description of the post-mortem histories of remains. By providing training in forensic taphonomy investigative techniques, and incorporating them into investigations, more precise information may be gathered, potentially leading to faster turnaround times and case resolutions. The information presented in this review will prove useful in assisting the forensic community and may stimulate future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences
Supervisor(s): Magni, Paola and Guareschi, Edda
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