Forensic anthropology is a scientific discipline that applies methods of physical anthropology to the identification of human remains in a medicolegal context or a disaster victim identification incident.
The forensic anthropologist is primarily involved in retrieving biological information from the skeletal tissues of the body that are pertinent to establishing the identity of the deceased. This is done by constructing a biological profile of the human remains which provides an estimation of ancestry, sex, age, stature, and an assessment of any skeletal anomalies, pre-existing ante- or peri- mortem trauma, or hard tissue disease processes.
The involvement of the forensic anthropologist in a criminal investigation is particularly important in cases where human remains are severely decomposed, skeletonised, burnt, fragmented, or may be commingled with more than one individual. They can also assist in the comparison of ante-mortem and post-mortem data, the estimation of the post-mortem interval, and the identification of taphonomic processes that may have affected or modified the human remains after death.
In addition, forensic anthropologists can assist in cases where age estimation of living individuals is required (i.e. people trafficking, asylum and immigration cases, etc.).