Investigating the ‘Bones’ approach

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By Miho Kaneko / Staff Writer

ExamInIng the evIdence (Jasmeet SIngh / Editor’s Assistant)

By Miho Kaneko / Staff Writer

Do you want to catch your guy like Dr. Temperance Brennan from the Fox television show ‘Bones’?

Well for a student interested in crime scene investigation or wants a job in just such a field, there is one class he or she can learn and experience crime scene investigation at Riverside City College.

This class is called forensic anthropology. It is the application of the science of physical anthropology to the legal process including the identification of skeletal, decomposed, or unidentified human remains.

The class is held in Quadrangle Room 201 every Thursday from 6-9:30 p.m.

Throughout the course, students learn how to identify the bone as someone who is dead and how to recognize bone structure. In other words, a student will be able to tell if the bone is human or animal.

Once the student figures out that the bone is human, they should be able to tell the stature, weight, age, occupation and biological sex of the individual.

With continued research, the student can identify what killed the person, what circumstances the death occurred under and what was going on at the exact moment of death.

“It’s about bones, how we can tell somebody whole story from skeleton over name,” said Laura Greathouse, instructor of the forensic anthropology class. “Who they are, what they did, what they look like, and what happened.”

The first hour or more is conducted in lecture form. The instructor explains to the students the model of what they are looking for.

The second section consists of hands-on lab time. The purpose is to train students on the practical use of skills learned during lectures.

In the current spring semester, there are 49 students taking the forensic anthropology class.

Recently, students completed a crime scene recovery and began working on their basic crime scene skills.

The crime scene recovery is a lab activity in which six teams of students search out an area on campus to find human and cultural material remains that point to a crime.

For this semester, Greathouse set up six crime scenes where students must go and muse about osteology, the scientific study of bones.

After searching the area of a crime scene, students have to collect and analyze the data to determine age, ancestry, sex and cause of death of an individual.

“I think students are enjoying because I think a lot of time we don’t know what happened after death, which is kind of mystery,” Greathouse said. “And what we can certificate out of the mystery, for a lot of students, is combing.”

Most of the students taking the forensic anthropology class are planning to obtain a crime scene investigation certificate, which is a part of the justice studies program.

Future careers in crime scene investigation and forensic anthropology include working for the police department or for labs as investigators doing recoveries such as ones performed in the class.

One RCC student, Trina Rand, took this class last semester in order to get a crime scene investigation certificate.

According to Rand, the forensic anthropology class had numerous experiences that helped her to learn more.

Rand was excited that she can figure out a person’s age, race and height from a bone.
“Everything was interesting,” Rand said about the forensic anthropology class. “Professor Greathouse does teaching to know.”

So, you might want to do some digging around if crime scene investigation seems interesting to you.

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