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Expert to determine origin of bones
Discovering who the 20 bones and partial human skull discovered last weekend near the mouth of Cedar Creek in Glynn County belong to may require some forensic anthropology testing. The bones were discovered by an unidentified man who was walking Sunday near the mouth of Cedar Creek, across from Quarantine Island, looking for artifacts, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said. He was initially told the bones were found by an angler.

Police had to wait until low tide Monday to begin processing the scene. After low tide Tuesday, they had retrieved what Doering believes to be all of the bones in the area.

The partial skull included a lower jaw bone with several missing teeth, Doering said. Also missing were the eye sockets and nasal area of the skull, he said. The forehead area and parts of the back of the skull were still intact. With no scientific testing completed, Doering said his best educated guess is that the bones had been in the river for many years.

"The best way I can describe it is that it was not recent," Doering said.

To be sure, police boxed up the bones and sent them to the GBI crime lab in Savannah for testing. Wally Campbell, the crime lab's director, said the bones could require analysis by a forensic anthropologist depending on their condition and approximate age.

If that is necessary, it is likely Kerrian Marden will get them.As an assistant professor and director of the University of West Georgia's Forensic Anthropology Laboratory, Marden often is charged with solving bone mysteries for the GBI. If she gets them, the first step will be to determine if the bones are historical or more recent. Bones that are centuries old tend to be different than more recent bones because advances in modern medicine allow humans to live longer, more healthy lives.

The size of the skull itself and the patterns of dental wear are key indicators of the era in which the person lived, Marden said.

If the bones are from within the last 50 years, she will take a slightly different approach.

"If it looks like it's relatively recent, they would try to identify a biological profile," Marden said.

Bones can indicate everything from a person's gender and race, to how old they were, how healthy they were and even if they were drug users.

"You can tell a remarkable amount about someone by their bones," Marden said.

* Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.

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