First, please be aware that I haven't coughed up the money to watch the documentary in question.
Forensic examination of paediatric skeletal remains to determine age is one of the better researched tasks which forensic medicine engages in, and
I've heard examiners claim in conversation that they can determine the age of a child at death reliably plus or minus three years even though I've
never seen what research (if any) validates that, and there's still some quite a bit more guesswork involved in it than I care for. The best marker of
the age of skeletal remains is dental development. Absent that long bone diaphyseal lengths are the primary marker for infant remains, and epiphyseal
fusion is the primary marker for children and adolescents, as long bones grow at a roughly predictable rate in utero
, and epiphyses fuse in a
roughly predictable manner as a child matures. That said, there is a published report in the scientific literature of a fusion line still being
visible on radiograph in a seventy-year-old woman, so there is significant room for error in these techniques. . .
If the science is as good as the forensic examiners I've met seem to think, there shouldn't be a huge problem determining whether or not skeletal
remains were those of a foetus/infant vs a six-year-old child. I glanced at an introductory textbook on the discipline available online through my
institution's library (Cunha E, Pinheiro J, Schmitt A, editors. Forensic Anthropology and Medicine: Complementary Sciences from Recovery to Cause of
Death. Totowa, N.J.: Humana Press; 2006.) but it didn't give specifics about what makers mean what: it just refers to the publications that do. If
you've got something more specific to go on, I might be willing to look it up and help you out next time I have some other business in the medical
library. (For the moment I'm not trudging up there without something to go on, and sending somebody else to do it seems too much like misappropriation
Also, please note that most of the relevant techniques are valid for healthy, normally developing children/foetuses *only*. According to the
above-mentioned textbook, "caution is advised when attempting to age fetuses with known or suspected congenital pathology." Also, if you're going on
sequences and stills from a film, I think it's fair to say that anything anybody (even a legitimate subject matter expert) comes up with is *highly*
What are the specific questions you have?
edit on 25-4-2013 by DiogenesTheDog because: Forgot to close a parentheses
edit on 25-4-2013 by DiogenesTheDog
because: I just should have proof-read the fool thing to begin with.