How to Tell the Difference Between Human & Animal Bones

A cow skull is obviously different than a human's, and most people will not confuse a tiger's fangs with a human's incisors. It's much harder, however, to separate human bone fragments from animal, especially when they have been buried for aeons or warped with fire. The two are distinguished by certain traits unique to animals and humans. For instance, a majority of animals have an elongated face and V-shaped jaws. Their bones are designed to support four-footed locomotion versus our bipedal walking. The size of more complete skeletons is often a telling factor, although human infant skeletons often resemble an animal's.

Determine if the inside surface of a skull fragment is generally smooth or more complex. Human skulls have only a few small grooves from blood vessels, as opposed to the rough interior of animal skulls.

Examine the slope of the skull fragment. Animal skulls are more curved and have more developed crests on their skulls to support their muscular system. Human skulls are large and spherical.

Inspect the circumference of the tooth. Human teeth are rounder than an animal's.

Decide whether the connecting bones of the wrist or ankle are joined. A human's tibia and fibula (foot) and radius and ulna (wrist) are separate bones.

Consider the bone's thickness. Animal bones are denser and less porous than a human's when viewed as a cross section. There is little tissue inside an animal's leg bones when compared to a human's long bones.

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