Monday, August 4, 2014

Forensic Anthropologist Clyde Snow Passes

I just learned that the renowned forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow passed away this past May at the age of 86.

Famous for identifying the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele and victims of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy, Snow was one of a generation of pioneers who sparked the current popular interest in forensic sciences.

What can we use from this in teaching undergraduate A&P?  Some of stories of his achievements (see links below) can help spark interest in studying the human skeleton and other systems.  And some of his familiar quotes are worth using in the lab or classroom:

  • "There are 206 bones and 32 teeth in the human body, and each has a story to tell."
  • "Bones can be puzzles, but they never lie, and they don't smell bad."
  • "The ground is like a beautiful woman—if you treat her gently, she'll tell you all her secrets."
  • "If you can make people feel they're not going to get away with it—that's all we're asking." (regarding using forensic science to solve crimes)

Want to know more?

Clyde Snow, forensic anthropologist who helped ID victims of John Wayne Gacy, dies at 86
  • M. Weil Washington Post May 18, 2014
  • Article summarizing Snow's work, including several stories that could be used in an A&P class discussion.

Science Detectives: The Masters Case
  • Discovery Channel January 22, 1997
  • Reenactment of forensic fieldwork in a killing that occurred decades before the victim's bones were discovered.

Image credit: Toony

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