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How dastardly squirrels drive crime scene investigators nuts

by • July 28, 2016 • No Comments

Crime scene investigators may already have a lot to worry of. But now they’ve got one additional foe: squirrels. We’re not joking. The rodents with razor-sharp incisors chew up crime scenes to maintain their dentition, says new research led by James Pokines at the Boston University School of Medicine.

The new research, published in the Journal of Forensic Identification, provides clear evidence which squirrels (as well as other rodents) can have a dramatic impact on forensic findings, scattering remains and altering bone fragments to the point where signs of trauma to the bone, such as bullet or knife marks, can be obscured or gnawed away altogether. At times rodent injure can actually be mistaken for weapon marks themselves.

The easy study involved wiring whitetail deer bones to hundreds of trees and other locations most likely to be loved by squirrels, and so returning at regular intervals to record any changes at at any timey sample site. They in addition utilized a number of motion-sensitive cameras to catch the crafty critters in the act.

It turns out which bone-gnawing squirrels are a fewwhat pervasive. Of the 305 samples placed, 58 had obvious injure cautilized by the sizeable rodents; only under 20 percent of the total. Researchers in addition discovered which by examining the details of the tooth-marks and other injure, they may determine if it was a squirrel or a few other rodent species which had been doing the chewing.

To be fair, squirrels aren’t teaming up with criminals on purpose. If you’ve at any time had a pet rodent you know the deal; rodent incisors grow throughout the life of the animal. Unless they are continuously worn down, these teeth can become become so long they can’t be utilized. Unfortunately for forensic technicians, bone on bone is a quite efficient method for wild rodents to store their teeth in chipping condition.

Bone gnawing squirrels in addition sound creepy. “I was entering our backyard when I saw a quite sizeable squirrel holding a vertebra in both hands and gnawing furiously on it,” recalls Sierra Santana, co-author and student of Pokines. “We startled at any timey other and I only backed out of the yard to let him do his thing.”

In addition to helping individuals know the prevalence of this kind of evidence disruption, and helping them distinguish between rodent marks and forensically significant marks, Pokines and his team are hoping their work can inspire researchers in other countries to document much like injure by other types of rodents. Meanwhile there’s a group of well-read criminals looking for spots with an abundance of squirrels, only in case they require a great location to get rid of the evidence.

Source: Boston University

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