State of preservation of the remains

The collection of Pandora skeletal remains includes over 200 bones and bone fragments. As is to be expected, not all have survived in the same condition: some are highly fragmented and barely recognisable as being human, while others are in exceptional condition and approach the quality of preserved anatomical specimens. In this investigation, preservation is important not only from an anatomical perspective, but right down to the molecular level. Good preservation is important for the application of forensic techniques. Correct identification, sorting and individual identification of each bone relies on the degree and state of structural preservation.

Evidence of antemortem dental plaque
Figure 17: Photograph showing evidence of antemortem dental plaque.

In many instances it is important to ascertain whether or not an anomaly is postmortem, or the result of normal variation, injury, or pathology. It is not always possible to come to precise conclusions regarding apparent anomalies. Obviously, when considering DNA extraction, the molecular integrity of the bones also becomes significant. Scanning electron microscopy was performed to analyse the microstructure of the material, which has been further backed up by biochemical analysis. Essentially, the relatively good state of preservation of the Pandora material has allowed for a significant amount of information to be gathered.


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Last updated: Thu Mar 28 2002