Course Description

This workshop, “Bare Bones with Bob II: The Human Skeleton in Forensic Anthropology and Medicine” focuses on a variety of topics in forensic anthropology. The purpose of this course is to provide new and returning participants with an introduction to forensic anthropology and human osteology. 

The workshop 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 workshop will be broadcast live from the 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 on-line instruction and encouraged to submit their comments and questions to the instructor through a live chat room. There will be live-group polling and real-time questions and answers. Following a 10-minute break at 9:30am (Hawaii standard time/HST) each day, the instructor will answer as many questions as time allows. The workshop will include several forensic anthropology cases that the instructor had worked on in his career.

Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion. No continuing education or academic hours will be given. The instructor will send out a few multiple-choice polls to participants (anonymous) for their responses to questions throughout the week.

What’s new:    

  • Tips on identifying and siding bones
  • A closer look at the biological profile
  • Contour of the frontal bone as an indicator of sex
  • Introduction to radiology
  • Using coconuts to simulate cranial trauma
  • “Twigs” and endocranial plaque: indicators of elderly age and disease
  • “The Body in the Back Yard: The Deadly Impostor”
  • “The Ewa Mummy” and “A Man and His Cats” PowerPoint presentations

Course Outline

Day 1 – Introduction to Forensic Anthropology Case Report and Skeletal Examination

  • (NEW): Introduction to forensic anthropology (“The Ewa Mummy” PowerPoint case report)
  • Laying out a skeleton for examination and (NEW): tips on how to identify and side bones
  • Siding and identifying hand and foot bones (Kiana Miller)

Day 2 – Determining the Biological Profile and Introduction to Forensic Odontology and Radiology

  • (NEW): A closer look at the biological profile (The “Big 4”)
  • Estimating age, sex, ancestry, and stature
  • Introduction to forensic dentistry and (NEW): introduction to radiology (Dr. J DeMeo)
  • (NEW): The frontal bone as an indicator of sex

Day 3 – Introduction to Bone Pathology and Trauma

  • Overview and examples of bone disease (DISH, AS, osteoarthritis and more) and aging
  • Introduction to blunt force, sharp force, and ballistic trauma
  • PE1 (at-home Practical Exercise): (NEW PowerPoint presentation): “Eggheads: Hard-boiled eggs and coconuts to simulate cranial trauma”
  • PE2 (at-home Practical Exercise): “Bend, bend, break! – Using a wooden pencil to simulate fractures in long-bones”
  • (NEW): “Twigs,” endocranial plaque, and calcified common carotid arteries: important indicators of elderly age and disease

Day 4 – Skeletal Examination and Bone Games

  • “The Big Reveal” – Steven Labrash will reveal the donor’s biological profile (but not identity) upon completion of the poll
  • “The Riddle of the Bones” – Fastest correct answer to the riddle wins a “Forensic Anthropology…It’s In Our Bones” baseball cap and lanyard
  • “Miles to Smiles” – the attendee who lives the farthest from Hawaii will receive a signed copy of the instructor’s book "Forensic Detective"
  • “The Black Box” (timed exercise) – how fast can Kiana identify and side the bones in the Black Box?
  • (NEW PowerPoint presentation): “The Body in the Backyard: The Deadly Impostor”

Day 5 – Forensic Anthropology Case Reports, Q&A, and Graduation

  • (PowerPoint case presentations): “The Last Camp Site” and “A Man and His Cats”
  • “Ask the forensic anthropologist” - post your online questions 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, radiology, taphonomy, and methods of personal identification.
  • An introductory knowledge of how to recover, curate, and handle human remains.



This webinar 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 updated “Brief Guide to Forensic Anthropology” compiled by the instructor will be available online (PDF) for participants 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.
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