Course Description

This workshop (delivered through Zoom) provides participants with an introduction to forensic anthropology and human osteology. We will focus on the human skeleton and cover how to identify and side human bones and how to compile a biological profile consisting of age at death, ancestry (ethnic affiliation), biological sex, and stature. We will also touch on skeletal trauma, bone disease, minimum number of individuals (MNI), and methods of personal identification.

The course will be broadcast live from JABSOM Bone Lab at the University of Hawaii. The instructor will utilize known-identity human skeletons in the Willed Body Program. Workshop participants will be provided online instruction and encouraged to submit their comments and questions to the instructor through a live chat room. The workshop will include highlights of forensic anthropology cases the instructor had worked on in his career.

Participants who successfully complete all five days of the course will receive a certificate of completion. No continuing education or academic hours will be given for this workshop.

Course Outline

This workshop will cover the major aspects of forensic anthropology, including the following (with a 10-minute break each day at 9:30am HST):

  • Day 1: Introduction to forensic anthropology and overview of the human skeleton
    • How to lay out a human skeleton and why
    • Identifying and siding bones (is the bone a right or left?)
    • How to identify and side hand and foot bones
  • Day 2: The biological profile: The “Big 4”
    • Age, biological sex, ancestry, and stature
    • How do we measure bones and why
  • Day 3: Overview of bone disease and aging
    • “Broken Bones”: Identifying antemortem, perimortem, and postmortem trauma
    • Blunt force, sharp force, and ballistic trauma
    • Arthritis and aging, infectious disease, metabolic bone disease, and more
    • PE1 (at-home Practical Exercise): “Eggheads: Hard-boiled eggs to simulate cranial trauma”
    • PE2 (at-home Practical Exercise): “Bend, bend, snap!: Using a wooden pencil to simulate fractures in long-bones”
  • Day 4: “The Big Reveal”
    • Instructor will layout a skeleton --> participants will be asked to come up with own analysis of the “Big 4”
    • Instructor will reveal the actual biological profile at the end
  • Day 5: “Show and Tell”
    • Examples of disease, trauma, surgical implants, bone healing, and more in the JABSOM Bone Lab
    • “Ask the forensic anthropologist” - post your online question(s) and the instructor will answer them.
    • “Graduation!”

Learner Outcomes

By the end of this course, participants should have:
  • An introductory knowledge of how to identify and side human bones.
  • A basic understanding of human skeletal anatomy and forensic anthropology to include the biological profile, skeletal disease, trauma, taphonomy, and methods of personal identification.
  • An introductory knowledge of how to recover, curate, and handle human remains.


This course is open to anyone:

  • interested in learning more about the human skeleton, forensic anthropology, forensic science, crime scene recovery, human anatomy, and what happens to the body after death;
  • interested in documentaries and crime shows such as CSI, Bones, and NCIS;
  • wanting to know "what's real and what's not" about the human skeleton, forensic anthropology, and "true crime" shows and books (for example, why does everyone on television work in dark labs and without lights?!);
  • who is a student and interested in human anatomy, medicine, nursing, biology and allied.


A free “Forensic Anthropology Guideline” will be posted online for the participant to download at their leisure.

Suggested reference books include:
“The Bone Book: A Photographic Lab Manual for Identifying and Siding Human Bones,” by Robert W. Mann, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, 2017.

“Forensic Detective: How I Cracked the World’s Toughest Cases,” by Robert W. Mann, Random House Publishers, New York, 2006.


Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
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