The just released textbook, “A Companion to Forensic Anthropology,” edited by Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, chair of the Applied Forensic Sciences Department and the Master of Science program in Anthropology at Mercyhurst University, explores the latest theoretical and methodological work in the field, including a chapter by Mercyhurst colleague and leading skeletal trauma expert Dr. Steven Symes.
The book, released in May 2012 by Wiley-Blackwell, features a wide range of international experts who provide a comprehensive assessment of forensic anthropology and its application in today’s world. Among the concentrations are archaeological recovery of human remains, skeletal trauma analysis, mass disaster scene recovery and mass grave excavation, DNA analysis, forensic statistical methods, as well as human rights issues around the world.
Symes’ chapter, “Interpreting Traumatic Injury to Bone in Medicolegal Investigations,” explores the history of skeletal trauma analysis; skeletal biomechanics; identification of bone trauma; in particular, blunt force, ballistic and sharp force trauma. Symes primary expertise is in the latter, particularly saw and knife mark analysis. He has assisted national and international authorities in consulting on roughly 200 dismemberment cases and 400 knife-wound cases. His chapter also includes a section on trauma analysis of the fatal fire victim.
As part of the discussion, Symes addresses patterns of bone fracture and bone healing as they apply to the assessment of child and elderly abuse.
Chapter co-authors include Dr. Ericka L’Abbé, senior lecturer in the physical anthropology section of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Pretoria, South Africa; former Mercyhurst research fellow and adjunct faculty Erin Chapman and graduate Ivana Wolff, a member of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team.