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Evidence of Aging in Humans

  1. Jan 27, 2006 #1
    Just a simple question for people knowledgeable in biology:
    what are some specific examples of determining someone's age by studying thier body? I know you can use bones and teeth, and perhaps hair or something, but what specifically is it that the coronor, let's say, looks for to determine accurate age in a cadaver? Are there layers of cacium on the bones, like rings in a tree trunk, or what?

    More importantly, what is a non-conspicuous way of telling someone's age if a body were intentionally fabricated to look older? (nevermind how).

    p.s. this sounds creepy I know; I'm writing a novel.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2006 #2


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    What stage of decomposition is the body in?
  4. Jan 29, 2006 #3


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    They can't determine a precise age, just an approximate age range. Assuming the body wasn't too decomposed, they'd use the same features anyone would use to guess someone's age...wrinkles, gray hair, other body hair, baldness. In a young person, they could also look at the growth plates in the bones, which fuse when we reach our adult height, whether they have their baby teeth or adult teeth, how many sets of molars, whether the wisdom teeth are formed or still present, assess secondary sex characteristics and gonads to determine if they are pre- or post-pubertal. In older adults, perhaps evidence of worn cartilage, especially in the spine, maybe bone density scans that would indicate osteoporosis could add to the age range. In women, the ovaries would give clues if she's post-menopausal. I'm just guessing here at what a coroner would use though. This is just stuff I can think of that might be able to give clues about the age of a body. I think if the body is fairly decomposed, all they can really give are pretty broad guesses, like "middle-aged" or "elderly." Children's ages they could probably guess more precisely because there are characteristic growth stages...assuming of course that the kid isn't at the extreme ends of the spectrum so that a 2 year old has bone lengths of a 5 year old.
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