Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

A Case of Split-Line Research Specimens Submitted for Forensic Anthropological Analysis

Angi M. Christensen, Leslie S. Larsen, Brian F. Spatola


A case is reviewed in which skeletal specimens presenting with uniformly distributed black markings were submitted for forensic anthropological examination. The specimens were recovered in connection with an FBI investigation involving the international black market in human body parts. These specimens, however, were distinctive in presentation, and were determined to have likely been previously used in a research study using the “split-line” technique, a method of assessing grain direction in biological tissues which involves the application of ink to decalcified bone resulting in elongate ink-marked split-lines. It is not uncommon for former anatomical teaching specimens to be received in forensic anthropological contexts, but the receipt of former research specimens is considerably rarer.

Full Text: