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Inquiry into the Scientific Basis for Bitemark Profiling and Arbitrary Distortion Compensation

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Prediction of dental characteristics from a bitemark (bitemark profiling) and arbitrary photographic distortion compensation are two practices proposed in bitemark analysis. Recent research on the effect of inherent skin tension properties in bitemark analysis suggests that these practices are subject to review. A biting apparatus was used to create 66 bitemarks in human cadaver skin. The bitemarks were photographed, sized 1:1, and evaluated with Adobe Photoshop®. Metric/angular measurements and hollow volume dental overlays were employed. Distortion produced was calculated and assessed. Results showed distortional ranges were nonuniform both between bites, as well as within each bite. Thus, enlarging/decreasing the photograph uniformly would not correct the distortion that resulted. With regard to bitemark profiling, 38% of the bites created patterns that could be misleading if profiled. Features were present/absent that were inconsistent with the biter’s dentition. Conclusions indicate bitemark profiling and arbitrary distortion compensation may be inadvisable.
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Keywords: anisotropy; bitemark research; bitemarks; forensic odontology; forensic science; skin tension

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory for Forensic Odontology Research, School of Dental Medicine, SUNY at Buffalo, B1 Squire Hall, S. Campus, Buffalo, NY 14214. 2: 5101 Washington St., Suite 2V, Gurnee, IL 60031.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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