Date of Award

December 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Jean Hudson

Committee Members

Emily Middleton, Shannon Freier


Differentiating, Human, Nonhuman, Species, Taxa


Forensic anthropologists who work in medical examiner’s offices or similar contexts frequently need to differentiate nonhuman from human skeletal or partially decomposed remains. If we, forensic anthropologists, were more aware of which nonhuman bones were most common in such situations, we might be able to improve our training programs. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Kenosha County, southwest Wisconsin, accumulated over 1,940 nonhuman bones over a period of several years, most likely primarily between 2000 and 2005. These are the focus of this thesis, which presents a quantitative analysis of the most frequently encountered taxa and elements. The majority of the nonhuman remains were mammalian (74%), and roughly the size of adult human bones, although smaller sizes were also represented in the sample. The top three mammalian species identified were white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), pig (Sus scrofa), and domestic cow (Bos taurus). Among the bird bones identified, turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was the most common. Considering that nonhuman bones may make up a sizable fraction of overall casework, forensic education programs may be well-served by increasing training in human and nonhuman differentiation.