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Michelle121381's avatar

Found femur bone. Human or animal?

Asked by Michelle121381 (61points) May 13th, 2014 from iPhone

I’m trying to determine if the bone we found could be human. It was taken to local authorities, and they sent it to a crime lab. I was told the testing could take months to know for sure.

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30 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

About all you can do. Do you have a picture of it?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Michelle121381's avatar

How do I upload pics from my phone?

Cruiser's avatar

@Michelle121381 You need to save the photo to a photo share website like photobucket and then copy and paste the link here.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Michelle121381's avatar

<iframe width=“480” height=“360” src=“”></iframe>

Michelle121381's avatar

Is that it? Sorry…not sure how to do this.

Cruiser's avatar

@Michelle121381 Copy and paste the “direct link” code.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m hip to what you did there, @elbanditoroso.

Welcome to Fluther! What an interesting first question!

Here’s your link, @Michelle121381.

I’m not a student of human anatomy (my reading of Playboy to the contrary), but that combination of bones (femur, by the way) looks pretty large for a human. I’m guessing perhaps a cow or other large mammal.

GloPro's avatar

If it was sent to a crime lab there must be reasonable suspicion that it could be human. You indicated that partial hip was also found. The hips are aligned differently in an animal that has the ability to stand upright. That would eliminate all but human, bear, and primate. off of the top of my head

GloPro's avatar

Here is a human hip joint interface.

gailcalled's avatar

(“Femur.”) Do you have a photo with something in it to show the scale?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Hi Michelle Welcome to Fluther!.

That is so cool!!!

To make a link you put quotes around the words you want to highlight, for example “Michelles Pictures” then follow it with a colon : and then follow that with your link . No spaces. There is an example just below the text box where you answer.
Here is your link

Let us know what you hear.

Michelle121381's avatar

My daughter found it in our neighbors yard . They have 3 grown adult males living under one roof all with mental health issues. This is my worry about it taking so long.

GloPro's avatar

Here is a site showcasing many human femurs.

Here is a cow femur. It’s pretty safe to say it isn’t bovine.

Scroll down a bit on this link for a deer femur.

Telling the difference between human and animal bones

Forensic identification of a human bone

You have a good chance, here. I’m no expert, but looking at the trochanter of the superior portion, where the articulation with the hip is, it is quite different than either the cow or the deer. So interesting!

Michelle121381's avatar

It would be more interesting if it was not my neighbor (: does anyone know of a place I could show these pictures to in Michigan?

dappled_leaves's avatar

Is there a nearby university with a zoology department? They might be curious enough to take a look. Or they might say no because they get a lot of weird calls from the public. Or how about a local vet?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

A medical doctor would be able to tell you. We have one or two on here, maybe they will chime in.

Buttonstc's avatar

You could try the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor if you’re looking for a resource in MI. but it’s a big state.

Are you in UP or Southeast Mi.?

Buttonstc's avatar

Also MSU (Michigan State Univ.) in East Lansing has a longstanding and well developed program in Forensic Science.

You would want to speak with the professor in charge of the Foremsic Anthropology (Bones) Division.

Here’s the link.

Michelle121381's avatar

I am in South East Michigan. I’ll give that a try. Hopefully they don’t think I’m looney.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m sure they get a fair number of calls like this.

However, I would assume they’d prefer to deal with the actual bones rather than photographs.

But if you gave them to police in Mi I would assume that they would consult with the same experts from MSU.

I mean, this is their primary field of expertise and with the current popularity of shows like CSI and Bones there is much more awareness by the general public and thus many more calls to field.

I doubt they are dismissive or consider anybody a kook because there is always the possibility of an unsolved murder previously unknown.

Michelle121381's avatar

I know it does not help that I don’t have something next to the bone to help them determine the scale.
My sister showed it to the foot doctor she works for and he said he believes it to be real.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It’s hard to determine from those photos, unfortunately. To my eyes, the femur appears to be the right size and shape. However I can’t place the pelvic fragment in the context of a human pelvis. The smooth, unbroken part of the pelvis that is at the top in your photos doesn’t appear to correspond to the greater sciatic notch in humans (see here). There really shouldn’t be a smooth, convex ridge so close to the acetabulum. To give you a conclusive answer though, I would have to examine it myself to see where the force lines are – where bone remodels itself to be strongest in the plane in which force is applied to it.

I am curious about the horizontal striations shown on the shaft of the femur in your first picture. I’d be interested to know what caused them. Keep us updated!

JustHeretoAnswerThis's avatar

There are a couple answers above that bother me just a teensy bit. Stating things like “take it to a medical doctor, they’ll know”, or “hey, I took it to a nurse, and guess what y’all, they said we got a murder on our hands” is sort of not all that helpful because, as all-knowing as doctors are, they are experts in healthcare not in human morphology. Now, you are probably better off going with a physician, or pretty much anyone in the biological sciences when asking this question than say, someone in business, but really, the person you want to ask when you are wondering if the rotting piece of corpsey in your yard is human or non-human is a physical anthropologist who specializes in human skeletal biology, human identification, human osteology, and/or bioarchaeology, in other words a forensic anthropologist. In Michigan, the best place for that is MSU. (Not UofM – blech). However…I’m pretty sure that as a member of the public, your first step should be calling the police.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JustHeretoAnswerThis Physical anthropologists don’t have a monopoly on human anatomy knowledge. An orthopaedic surgeon would be equally qualified to answer this question, as would a musculo-skeletal radiologist, and to a lesser extent an endocrinologist. Of course a psychiatrist would be almost useless, but you can’t write off medicine as being only one profession.

Any health professional should also be quick to highlight the limits of their knowledge, as you will see in my response above. I am a medical radiographer, so bones and their features are a huge part of my job, but I don’t pretend to be able to give a definitive answer. The fact is most professions have overlapping fields of knowledge, so multiple experts will be able to offer valid professional opinions on any one issue.

CWOTUS's avatar

Even if you should learn that you do, in fact, have a human femur in hand doesn’t mean, ipso facto, that “This is from a crime.” Much less does it indicate “a murder”, on its own. To make a determination of “cause of death” will take the services of a medical examiner or someone with those qualifications.

There are certainly ways that an animal could come across a human femur – an entire body, in fact – which don’t mean “this is a murder victim”.

Homeless people die of exposure frequently enough, or people in accidents while hiking rough terrain, and are sometimes not discovered until years after the fact. It happens. Sometimes abandoned and/or forgotten graves are even exposed through natural events, such as flood and erosion, which can mean that a previously lawfully interred body can be uncovered.

Even suicide can’t be ruled out, especially if the victim had somehow managed to do that in a place where the body might lie undiscovered for a long enough time for the flesh to decay.

And I don’t profess any expertise in human morphology, but that bone still looks too big for less than a giant of a person. Got any beanstalks nearby?

GloPro's avatar

@CWOTUS It appears the correct size and proportion to potentially be human to me. The femur of an adult is the largest bone in the body, remember. It measures almost 2 feet easily. The head of the femur is also quite large.
In addition, if you look at the links I provided above, it certainly isn’t bovine. Also, the human femur in comparison to deer is larger. The OP has not said what other wildlife are in her area to determine any further…

JustHeretoAnswerThis's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I did not mean to imply that physical anthropologists had “a monopoly on human anatomy knowledge.” I’m only stating that the most appropriate expert for answering this question, (i.e. Are These Skeletonized Remains Human?) is a forensic anthropologist, a physical anthropologist who specializes in skeletal biology, human osteology, and human identification. (Not a physical anthropologist in the general sense, as that could mean someone who studies marmosets or lemurs…not as helpful.)

While I of course agree that fields have overlapping areas of knowledge, I don’t quite think that an orthopaedic surgeon (or an endocrinologist) would necessarily be equally qualified to answer this question. Obviously, an orthopaedic surgeon is going to be well-versed in human skeletal anatomy, same with a radiologist. However, if we are talking about differentiating between human and animal bone, they can be quite difficult to distinguish from one another and you might be surprised at what regularly gets mistaken for human remains.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JustHeretoAnswerThis When you phrase it like that, fair enough.

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