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Estimating Age of Death from Subadult Remains

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2023

This Just Science Podcast episode is a discussion among with an anthropologist and forensic researcher as well as a physical scientist, about scientific advances in understanding the growth and development patterns in the skeletons of young people.


This episode of Just Science Podcast is hosted by Jim Dawson, and features two guests: Kyra Stull, an anthropologist and forensic researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno; and Danielle McLeod-Henning, a physical scientist at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The guests discuss the long-standing problem of estimating the age and sex of subadult skeletal remains, and the cutting-edge research advances in that have led to an improved understanding of the growth and development patterns of young people’s skeletons. The group discusses biological anthropology, and the problem of having approximately 460,000 children who are reported missing in the U.S., annually, with about one in 10,000 of those children that are deceased when they are found; they also discuss what the NIJ and scientists in general have done to address this problem, the process of making a biological profile, and the challenges of using historic skeletons from 150 years ago for determining the age of modern cases. Recent research has been able to create new sampling methods which include diaphyseal dimensions and epiphyseal fusion, as well as the use of dental indicators, for determining subadult ages of decedents, from zero to 20 years of age.

Date Published: June 1, 2023