Bone Cracking in Low Humidity/High Temperature Environment

Lauren Gray Stogner


What causes the discrepancy in bone cracking in low humidity/high temperature environments? While cleaning bone for unrelated research in a tank of Dermestid beetles, certain bones would crack while others would not. The central theme of this research is to find out what factors made the bones crack and why some did not. Knowing the reasons for this will help in forensic cases, and the ability to control these factors could help future research.

Deer humeri and femora were placed in a tank of Dermestid beetles in a room with a temperature of about 79 degrees Fahrenheit and about 24% humidity.  The height, weight, circumference at the shaft, type of bone, fusion stage and whether or not they cracked were noted.

The best indicator of whether a bone will crack or not appears to be the type of bone. Humeri had a cracking rate of 5% while femora had a cracking rate of 64% from the group of 40 bones. The other variables did not seem to play a roll. The reason for this, I hypothesize is the curvature of the humerus is much greater than the femur which stands up to the tension of the drying produces. The differences in the susceptibility of the two types of bone will be an important factor in future research on weathering and cracking of bone.


Forensic Anthropology, Weathering, Bone Trauma

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