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Articles from Aids To Forensic Medicine And Toxicology

Infanticide

Lead And Its Preparations

The Mineral Acids

Duration Of Pregnancy

Zinc Silver Bismuth And Chromium

Chloral Hydrate

Chlorate Of Potassium Etc

Gunshot Wounds

The Inebriates Acts

Symptoms And Post-mortem Appearances Of Different Classes Of Poisons


Personal Identity





It is but seldom that medical evidence is required with regard to the
identification of the living, though it may sometimes be so, as in the
celebrated Tichborne case. The medical man may in such cases be
consulted as to family resemblance, marks on the body, nævi materni,
scars and tattoo marks, or with regard to the organs of generation in
cases of doubtful sex. Tattoo marks may disappear during life; the
brighter colours, as vermilion, as a rule, more readily than those made
with carbon, as Indian ink; after death the colouring-matter may be
found in the proximal glands. If the tattooing is superficial (merely
underneath the cuticle) the marks may possibly be removed by acetic
acid or cantharides, or even by picking out the colouring-matter with a
fine needle. With regard to scars and their permanence, it will be
remembered that scars occasioned by actual loss of substance, or by
wounds healed by granulation, never disappear. The scars of leech-bites,
lancet-wounds, or cupping instruments, may disappear after a lapse of
time. It is difficult, if not impossible, to give any certain or
positive opinion as to the age of a scar; recent scars are pink in
colour; old scars are white and glistening. The cicatrix resulting from
a wound depends upon its situation. Of incised wounds an elliptical
cicatrix is typical, linear being chiefly found between the fingers and
toes. By way of disguise the hair may be dyed black with lead acetate or
nitrate of silver; detected by allowing the hair to grow, or by steeping
some of it in dilute nitric acid, and testing with iodide of potassium
for lead, and hydrochloric acid for silver. The hair may be bleached
with chlorine or peroxide of hydrogen, detected by letting the hair grow
and by its unnatural feeling and the irregularity of the bleaching.

Finger-print impressions are the most trustworthy of all means of
identification. Such a print is obtained by rubbing the pulp of the
finger in lampblack, and then impressing it on a glazed card. The
impression reveals the fine lines which exist at the tips of the
fingers. The arrangement of these lines is special to each person, and
cannot be changed. Hence this method is employed by the police in the
identification of prisoners.

In the determination of cases of doubtful sex in the living, the
following points should be noticed: the size of the penis or clitoris,
and whether perforate or not, the form of the prepuce, the presence or
absence of nymphæ and of testicles or ovaries. Openings must be
carefully sounded as to their communication with bladder or uterus.
After puberty, inquiry should be made as to menstrual or vicarious
discharges, the general development of the body, the growth of hair,
the tone of voice, and the behaviour of the individual towards either
sex.

With regard to the identification of the dead in cases of death by
accident or violence, the medical man's assistance may be called. The
sex of the skeleton, if that only be found, may be judged from the bones
of the female generally being smaller and more slender than those of the
male, by the female thorax being deeper, the costal cartilages longer,
the ilia more expanded, the sacrum flatter and broader, the coccyx
movable and turned back, the tuberosities of the ischia wider apart, the
pubes shallow, and the whole pelvis shallower and with larger outlets.
But of all these signs the only one of any real value is the roundness
of the pubic arch in the female, as compared with the pointed arch in
the male. Before puberty the sex cannot be determined from an
examination of the bones.

Age may be calculated from the presence, nature and number of the
erupted teeth; from the cartilages of the ribs, which gradually ossify
as age advances; from the angle formed by the ramus of the lower jaw
with its body (obtuse in infancy, a right angle in the adult, and again
obtuse in the aged from loss of the teeth); and in the young from the
condition of the epiphyses with regard to their attachment to their
respective shafts.

To determine stature, the whole skeleton should be laid out and
measured, 1-1/2 to 2 inches being allowed for the soft parts.





Next: Examination Of Persons Found Dead

Previous: Medical Evidence



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