The effects of heat on ??13c and ??18o ratios in dental enamel: implications for forensic anthropology

by Kristyna M Pfluger

Institution: Humboldt State University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Stable isotope analysis; ??13C ratio; ??18O ratio; Human dentition; Pig dentition; Heat expo; Dental identification; Fire-exposed teeth
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2070595
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/176075


There are currently 10,685 unidentified persons cases in the U.S. Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Person System. Current literature details multiple methods used to identify unknown human remains, such as DNA analysis, sex/age/stature estimation, facial reconstruction, and stable isotope analysis. The latter can be used to estimate an individual???s region of origin, migration patterns, and dietary habits. Often, the efficacy of stable isotopic analysis has been vetted on well-preserved remains. There is currently a deficit of knowledge on the accuracy of stable isotope analysis performed on incinerated human teeth. However, studies have found that stable isotope analysis can be successfully performed on bone with partial charring as long as the sample is taken from an un-charred portion of the bone. This project investigated how experimental fire conditions affected carbon and oxygen isotope composition of burned teeth. This study found a significant difference in ??13C, but not ??18O between the experimentally manipulated and control teeth. For both isotopes, the amount of variation was consistent with the degree of within-population variation. The small changes in values seen in the current study would not likely associate an individual with the incorrect regions of origin. The results of this study provide a baseline for further experiments aimed at establishing the degree of accuracy of stable isotope analyses performed on known fire-exposed teeth. Advisors/Committee Members: Ramsier, Marissa A..