M.A. Theses: Sara Jane Yoshida, 2000

The Replication of Depressed, Localized Skull Fractures: An Experiment Using Sus domesticus As a Model For Human Forensic Trauma

This thesis research developed and tested an experimental methodology for the replication of hammer-blow trauma in domestic pigs (Sus domesticus), with the aim of creating a viable analog or model for the study of hammer-blow trauma in real forensic cases. A sample of depressed, localized fractures was created on pig skulls by striking the frontal bone of each skull with a single hammer blow. A range of trauma was observed, and was ranked using a five-part ordinal scale. When the experimental sample was compared with trauma from a real homicide case, they were strikingly similar, indicating that pig skulls are well-suited to modelling trauma seen in human victims. Corollary radiographic studies conducted on the experimental sample found that there was no observable radiographic difference between frozen and thawed specimens, and that radiographs should not be solely relied upon for interpretation of trauma without also examining the trauma directly in defleshed specimens. Pigs are advocated as viable models for the replication of hammer-blow trauma, and this modelling could provide valuable medico-legal information to be applied in real forensic case.