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Reliability of Craniofacial Superimposition Using Three‐Dimension Skull Model

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Craniofacial superimposition is a technique potentially useful for the identification of unidentified human remains if a photo of the missing person is available. We have tested the reliability of the 2D‐3D computer‐aided nonautomatic superimposition techniques. Three‐dimension laser scans of five skulls and ten photographs were overlaid with an imaging software. The resulting superimpositions were evaluated using three methods: craniofacial landmarks, morphological features, and a combination of the two. A 3D model of each skull without its mandible was tested for superimposition; we also evaluated whether separating skulls by sex would increase correct identifications. Results show that the landmark method employing the entire skull is the more reliable one (5/5 correct identifications, 40% false positives [FP]), regardless of sex. However, the persistence of a high percentage of FP in all the methods evaluated indicates that these methods are unreliable for positive identification although the landmark‐only method could be useful for exclusion.
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Keywords: craniofacial superimposition; forensic anthropology; forensic science; laser scanner; personal identification; skull‐photo overlay; three‐dimension (3D) skull model

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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