Publications by authors named "Denise Donlon"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

"Lest we forget": An overview of Australia's response to the recovery and identification of unrecovered historic military remains.

Forensic Sci Int 2021 Oct 4;328:111042. Epub 2021 Oct 4.

School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia; School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is responsible for the recovery and identification of its historic casualties. With over 30,000 still unrecovered from past conflicts including World War One (WW1) and World War Two (WWII), the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force have teams that research, recover, identify and oversee the burial (or reburial) of the remains of soldiers and airmen who continue to be found each year. The Royal Australian Navy is also responsible for its unrecovered casualties. Collectively the priorities of the various services within the ADF are the respectful recovery and treatment of the dead, thorough forensic identification efforts, resolution for families and honouring the ADF's proud history of service and sacrifice. What is unique about the approach of the ADF is that the respective services retain responsibility for their historic losses, while a joint approach is taken on policies and in the utilisation of the pool of forensic specialists. Section One describes the process undertaken by the Australian Army in the recovery, identification and burial or repatriation of soldiers through its specialised unit Unrecovered War Casualties - Army (UWC-A). Section Two describes the role of the Royal Australian Air Force in the recovery of aircraft and service personnel through their specialised unit Historic Unrecovered War Casualties - Air Force (HUWC-AF). An overview of the operations of each service and case studies is presented for each section.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2021.111042DOI Listing
October 2021

Non-human bones in forensic casework: not such a trivial problem.

Forensic Sci Med Pathol 2020 09 25;16(3):442-449. Epub 2020 May 25.

Discipline of Anatomy and Histology F13, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.

When bones are submitted to mortuaries significant time and resources from both police and anthropologists are required, even if they are subsequently determined to be non-human. A survey of non-human bone casework was made in order to determine the scope of this problem and the different bone types being assessed. This study used data from nine years of casework at the NSW Department of Forensic Medicine (DOFM), Sydney. It analyzed the number of non-human cases that were assessed, the types of animals represented in these bones, the bone elements found, their condition and their location when found. By 2016, over 70% of skeletal cases handled each year by the Sydney DOFM were non-human. The most common animal remains were sheep and cattle, and the skeletal elements appearing in the greatest number of cases were vertebrae, followed by femora and tibiae. Skull fragments were rare. Slightly more cases were found on the surface rather than buried. Fragmentation might have been expected to contribute to difficulties in identifying bones, but in fact 32% of cases consisted of complete bones only. This study shows a very high proportion of non-human forensic casework in the Sydney region. Data presented in this study may prove useful in designing training workshops in non-human bone identification.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12024-020-00257-wDOI Listing
September 2020

Comparative cortical bone thickness between the long bones of humans and five common non-human mammal taxa.

Forensic Sci Int 2016 Mar 21;260:104.e1-104.e17. Epub 2015 Dec 21.

Discipline of Anatomy and Histology, Building F13, School of Medical Sciences, Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

The task of identifying fragments of long bone shafts as human or non-human is difficult but necessary, for both forensic and archaeological cases, and a fast simple method is particularly useful. Previous literature suggests there may be differences in the thickness of the cortical bone between these two groups, but this has not been tested thoroughly. The aim of this study was not only to test this suggestion, but also to provide data that could be of practical assistance for future comparisons. The major limb bones (humerus, radius, femur and tibia) of 50 Caucasoid adult skeletons of known age and sex were radiographed, along with corresponding skeletal elements from sheep, pigs, cattle, large dogs and kangaroos. Measurements were taken from the radiographs at five points along the bone shaft, of shaft diameter, cortical bone thickness, and a cortical thickness index (sum of cortices divided by shaft diameter) in both anteroposterior and mediolateral orientations. Each variable for actual cortical bone thickness as well as cortical thickness indices were compared between the human group (split by sex) and each of the non-human groups in turn, using Student's t-tests. Results showed that while significant differences did exist between the human groups and many of the non-human groups, these were not all in the same direction. That is, some variables in the human groups were significantly greater than, and others were significantly less than, the corresponding variable in the non-human groups, depending on the particular non-human group, sex of the human group, or variable under comparison. This was the case for measurements of both actual cortical bone thickness and cortical thickness index. Therefore, for bone shaft fragments for which the skeletal element is unknown, the overlap in cortical bone thickness between different areas of different bones is too great to allow identification using this method alone. However, by providing extensive cortical bone thickness data for a range of bones, this study may be able to assist in the identification of some bone fragments by providing another piece of evidence that, used in conjunction with other clues, can provide a likely determination of the origin of a bone fragment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.12.022DOI Listing
March 2016

Homo floresiensis: microcephalic, pygmoid, Australopithecus, or Homo?

J Hum Evol 2006 Oct 5;51(4):360-74. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

School of Archaeology & Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

The remarkable partial adult skeleton (LB1) excavated from Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia, has been attributed to a new species, Homo floresiensis, based upon a unique mosaic of primitive and derived features compared to any other hominin. The announcement precipitated widespread interest, and attention quickly focused on its possible affinities. LB1 is a small-bodied hominin with an endocranial volume of 380-410 cm3, a stature of 1m, and an approximate geological age of 18,000 years. The describers [Brown, P., Sutikna, T., Morwood, M.J., Soejono, R.P., Jatmiko, Wayhu Saptomo, E., Awe Due, R., 2004. A new small-bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature 431, 1055-1061] originally proposed that H. floresiensis was the end product of a long period of isolation of H. erectus or early Homo on a small island, a process known as insular dwarfism. More recently Morwood, Brown, and colleagues [Morwood, M.J., Brown, P., Jatmiko, Sutikna, T., Wahyu Saptomo, E., Westaway, K.E., Awe Due, R., Roberts, R.G., Maeda, T., Wasisto, S., Djubiantono, T., 2005. Further evidence for small-bodied hominins from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature 437, 1012-1017] reviewed this assessment in light of new material from the site and concluded that H. floresiensis is not likely to be descended from H. erectus, with the genealogy of the species remaining uncertain. Other interpretations, namely that LB1 is a pygmy or afflicted with microcephaly, have also been put forward. We explore the affinities of LB1 using cranial and postcranial metric and non-metric analyses. LB1 is compared to early Homo, two microcephalic humans, a 'pygmoid' excavated from another cave on Flores, H. sapiens (including African pygmies and Andaman Islanders), Australopithecus, and Paranthropus. Based on these comparisons, we conclude that it is unlikely that LB1 is a microcephalic human, and it cannot be attributed to any known species. Its attribution to a new species, Homo floresiensis, is supported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.04.013DOI Listing
October 2006
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