Forensic osteology, the science of determining the causes and circumstances of human death from the features, composition, and context of boney remains, has long been of interest to anthropologists, humanitarian groups, and law enforcement personnel. Currently, forensic osteology is at a higher level of public awareness than ever before, thanks in part to the increased attention drawn to forensics by advances in forensic identification techniques involving DNA. DNA fingerprinting has revolutionized the way forensic scientists determine sex and identity, but detecting cause and circumstances of death from bones remains largely in the domain of traditional forensic osteology techniques. Forensic osteology has taken an important documentary role in the steadily growing global awareness of of genocide. Several international groups have worked with forensic osteologists to investigate and record causes of death under circumstances that provide little non-osteological forensic data. The FOROST project aims to develop a globally accessible metabase serving records and images of forensic osteology specimens that can be used as a reference for forensics workers worldwide.
The FOROST metabase initiative is centered on a collaboration between the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), through the Facultad de Medicina and the Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas (IIA), and California State University, East Bay (CSUEB). A development team working from terminals in UNAM and CSUEB is designing and implementing a digital metadatabase (metabase) (http://forensicosteology.org) that will point forensic osteologists to catalog information and forensic osteology images and media from collections around the world.
The FOROST metabase development team is confident that the forensic osteolgy community will benefit from the utility of the FOROST portal. First, the FOROST metabase will directly benefit forensics-oriented professionals and students through access to banks of images and descriptions of cases. Increased direct access to specimen information will encourage refinement of methodology and standardization of forensic criteria. Institutions are encouraged to submit URLs that will link from the FOROST portal to their own collections. In other words, FOROST unifies the metadata in one spot and directs the traffic back to the websites of partner institutions. Any institution with the capacity to host a website can host their own images. The FOROST development team will provide HTML templates, if desired, or the institution may choose to design specimen pages entirely independently. Each institution may designate graduate students or researchers as liaisons. These individuals will be listed as contacts on the 'Partners' page and with each specimen's data.
We thank you for your interest and hope that you will consider participating as a partner.
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