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Title: The G-force awakens: The influence of gravity in bone heat-induced warping and its implications for the estimation of the pre-burning condition of human remains
Authors: Vassalo, Ana 
Mamede, Ana 
Ferreira, Maria Teresa 
Cunha, Eugénia 
Gonçalves, David 
Issue Date: 2017
Serial title, monograph or event: Austtalian Journal of Forensic Sciences
Abstract: In forensics, assessing the pre-burning condition is important to determine the circumstances of death. Heat-induced warping (HIW) occurs more frequently on non-dry bone but is not a reliable indicator of the pre-burning condition of human remains. Several factors have a significant effect on warping (e.g. maximum temperature) but others are still unknown. We investigated the effect of Earth’s force of gravity on HIW by experimentally burning 23 human long bones from 4 different unidentified skeletons at different temperatures. Only 56% of the warped bones (n = 16) presented HIW compatible with gravity. These bones presented larger masses than the bones presenting warping incompatible with gravity, thus suggesting that bone mass plays a role in HIW. Probably, the intrinsic contractile forces caused by heated collagen are at the origin of warping and such bending may be compatible with gravity depending on bone mass. Possibly, incompatibility occurs when intrinsic bending is counteracted by gravity whenever bone mass produces a stronger force. We therefore conjecture that HIW results from a combination of at least two different forces. HIW is multifactorial and finding a reliable indicator of the pre-burning condition of human remains may be only possible at the microscopic and elemental levels.
DOI: 10.1080/00450618.2017.1340521
Rights: embargoedAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CIAS - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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