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Estimating the Timing of Long Bone Fractures: Correlation Between the Postmortem Interval, Bone Moisture Content, and Blunt Force Trauma Fracture Characteristics

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There is very limited knowledge about how long perimortem fracture characteristics persist into the postmortem interval (PMI). Therefore, in this study, 60 porcine long bones were exposed to natural taphonomic conditions and fractured with a steel bone breaking apparatus every 28 days throughout a 141-day period. Differences between macroscopic blunt force trauma fracture characteristics (fracture angle, surface morphology, and outline) were examined to determine if they varied over time or in relationship to bone moisture content (ash weight) and overall assessment. There are significant relationships between (1) PMI and percent ash weight (%AW), fracture surface, and fracture angle and (2) %AW and fracture surface and fracture angle. Bone moisture content correlates significantly with fracture morphology and other characteristics commonly used by forensic anthropologists to determine the timing of traumatic injuries. However, fracture characteristics normally associated with perimortem trauma can persist long into the PMI.
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Keywords: forensic anthropology; forensic science; perimortem; postmortem; trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211.

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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