North Carolina A&T State Univ

Watch “The Bone Detective” video found under Course Materials in addition to your Chapter readings (especially Chapter 6) and be prepared to complete the following case study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcnGybzFhjM

In her book Written In Bone, Sally Walker describes how in 2003, Dr. Douglas Owsley, a forensic anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution, “reached into the graves” of the earliest colonist of Jamestown, Virginia. Their life stories are “written in the bones.” One of those graves is believed to belong to Bartholomew Gosnold, a ;lawyer, explorer, and one of the captains of the three ships that landed at the Jamestown Settlement in 1607. Gosnold died in 1607 and was buried with the iron tip of a staff used by the seventeenth-century British military. This staff, along with other evidence and artifacts found in the grave, helped establish the age of the gravesite and his military connection. The well-preserved skeletal remains were found in sandy soil. The shape of the gravesite indicated the captain was buried in a coffin, which meant he was a person of high status. Only discolored soil remained from the rotted wood of the coffin. Green stains in the soil remained from the oxidation of the copper shroud pins that wrapped the body.

Dr. Owsley and his team were able to “read the bones” of Captain Gosnold and inferred the following details:

  • Sex: male, based on pelvis shape
  • Age: between 33 and 39 years, based on the caps fused (epiphyses) with the shafts (diaphyses) of his long bones and other bone fusion sites, combines with evidence of arthritis in his spine and right arm.
  • Height: approximately 5 feet, 3 inches, based on length of his leg bones
  • Right-handed: based on the greater development of bones in the right arm than the left arm
  • Slender build: based on bone size
  • Type of work: based on bone size, indicative of an active man but not one who did heavy labor
  • Facial features: based on bone structure, a large broad nose and a small square chin
  • Dental health: loss of one tooth during his life as evidenced by a healed jaw
  • Bone health: mostly good other than healed ankle fractures
  • Physical health: chronic nasal infection evidenced by the extra bone formation inside the nasal cavity. Otherwise, he was apparently in good health.

In short essay (3-5 page) format regarding the above information and utilizing the assigned chapter readings, outside research and related course materials posted (i.e. video) answer the following: Support your answers and be sure to cite your sources.

a) What characteristics of the pelvis could be used to determine the skeletal remains belonged to that of a male?

b) Since his age at death was estimated between 33 and 39, which skull structures were most likely closed?

c) Bone size was used to determine that he was right-handed, his type of build, and the type of work he performed. Described the relationship between increased use of muscle and bone size.

d) Outline how craniofacial reconstruction could be used to produce a three-dimensional image of the captain’s face using the skull.

e) Some people could argue that the lost tooth could have occurred after death. What evidence would you cite that refutes that claim?

f) The skeletal remains were believed to belong to a man of the military, and part of the upper class. What evidence supports these claims?


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