Three Things You Didn’t Know About Forensic Science

Three Things You Didn’t Know About Forensic Science

 By Brian Robbins

Crime Scene Tape, Forensic Science
Crime Scene Tape, Forensic Science

We are fortunate that Charlottesville is not a dangerous city. The few threats that do exist are usually protected by insurance, with businesses, homeowners, renters and landlords all being safe from risk and free from liability thanks to companies like Allstate. If Charlottesville was a larger city, then there would be other risks, such as more crime. Criminals today find it difficult to ‘work’ till retirement given advancements in forensic science.

Forensic science has changed the legal world over the past century. Shows like CSI and NCIS portray forensic science, maybe a little too simplistically, but they have introduced millions of viewers to the world of using science to solve crimes. Forensic science may save a life or aid in the recovery of stolen merchandise such as a car or motorcycle. As a growing field of science, there is a lot for law enforcement to keep up with. Here are three things you may not know about forensics.

The Forerunner of Fingerprints: Anthropometry

Fingerprinting criminals dates to the latter half of the 19th Century. Before the use of fingerprints, and even for some time after, another source of information was used to keep up with the identity of criminals. Anthropometry is the measuring of the human body. Heads and arms and even fingers were measured and those records were used to make a file for a given criminal. The idea was that these measurements, most of them anyway, shouldn’t change for adults. It was a complex process and each profile was lengthy. Fingerprinting, and more recently DNA fingerprinting, have thankfully taken over for the identification of criminals. Modern insurance relies on forensic methods, such as fingerprinting, to protect clients in certain circumstances, should they have auto, business, or rental coverage.

DNA Fingerprinting: Thanks Whales!

If you’ve ever gone out in a boat and watched whales or dolphins play in the ocean, or gone to an aquarium and seen seals or sea lions, then you have met animals that have contributed to forensic science. DNA fingerprinting, the ability to link a blood sample, for example, to an individual is the result of research on marine mammals. Scientists were interested in how marine mammals like seals or whales stay underwater for so long. DNA had been known for some time, but that DNA was unique to each individual was not. While studying the biochemistry of marine mammal muscles, where they store extra oxygen, scientists discovered that DNA signatures were unique to different individuals. DNA fingerprinting was born.


The Body Farm: Forensic Anthropology in Action

While you’ll never see a commercial for it, the University of Tennessee body farm is well known in forensic and law enforcement circles. Here, donated human bodies are placed in various environments to simulate real-life conditions where law enforcement have found bodies before. These bodies are used to understand how the body decays and what forensic scientists can learn from corpses. These bodies are basically rentals, however. If the family ever wants them back, the bodies must be returned. The body farm represents one of several possible jobs for the recently deceased. Whatever your post-life plans may be, it is a great idea to get a quote for life insurance today.

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