Virtual anthropology : a preliminary test of macroscopic observation versus 3D surface scans and computed tomography (CT) scans

Abegg, Claudine (Unit of Forensic Imaging and Anthropology, University Center of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland) ; Balbo, Ilaria (Unit of Forensic Imaging and Anthropology, University Center of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland ; Dipartimento di Scienze biologiche, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy) ; Dominguez, Alexandre (Unit of Forensic Imaging and Anthropology, University Center of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland ; HESAV School of Health Sciences, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland) ; Grabherr, Silke (Unit of Forensic Imaging and Anthropology, University Center of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland) ; Campana, Lorenzo (Unit of Forensic Imaging and Anthropology, University Center of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland) ; Moghaddam, Negahnaz (Unit of Forensic Imaging and Anthropology, University Center of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland ; Swiss Human Institute of Forensic Taphonomy, Lausanne, Switzerland)

Virtual anthropology (VA) is based on applying anthropological methods currently used to analyse bones to 3D models of human remains. While great advances have been made in this endeavour in the past decade, several interrogations concerning how reliable these models are and what their proper use should be remain unanswered. In this research, a fundamental assumption of VA has been investigated: if the way we perceive and apply an anthropological method is truly similar when looking at bones macroscopically and through various 3D media. In order to answer, 10 skulls of known age and sex were scanned using a computed tomography (CT) scanner and a 3D surface scanner. Two observers separately applied a defined staging method to eight suture sites on these skulls, first looking at the bone macroscopically, then at the 3D surface scan, and finally on the CT scan. Two rounds of observation were carried out by each observer. Intra- and inter-observer error were evaluated, and two sample t-tests used to evaluate if the different types of medium used yielded significantly different observations. The results show a high degree of inter-observer error, and that data obtained from 3D surface scans differ from macroscopic observation (confidence level 95%, P ≤ 0.05). CT scans, in these settings, yielded results comparable to those obtained through macroscopic observations. These results offer many possibilities for future research, including indications on the kind of anthropological methods and anatomical landmarks that might be reliably transferable to the virtual environment. All current methods used in traditional anthropology should be tested, and if they prove unreliable, new techniques to analyse bones from virtual models should be developed.


Keywords:
Article Type:
scientifique
Faculty:
Santé
Branch:
Technique en radiologie médicale
School:
HESAV
Institute:
Unité de recherche en santé, HESAV
Date:
2021-01
Pagination:
9 p.
Published in:
Forensic sciences research
Numeration (vol. no.):
2021, vol.6, no. 1, pp. 34-41
DOI:
ISSN:
2096-1790
Appears in Collection:



 Record created 2021-05-21, last modified 2021-05-25

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