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Phoenix-area Search and Rescue teams studied the difference between animal and human bones at Midwestern University on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 (Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR News).
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Arizona search-rescue teams study difference between human, animal bones

Phoenix-area Search and Rescue teams studied the difference between animal and human bones at Midwestern University on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 (Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR News).

PHOENIX — Telling the difference between an animal and a human bone can make or break an investigation.

“Search and rescue people go out obviously looking for people and in the process they run across bones in the desert,” said David Jenkins, professor at Midwestern University. “The question can come up, is this an animal or a human?”

Dozens of law enforcement from national and local agencies looked at all kinds of bones set up on display on campus Tuesday. For practicing identification, cases involved human skulls being set up next to several samples of animal skulls.

“So the attendee can look at the skull and say, ‘Oh, this is really different from the human skull,’” said Jenkins, who is also a member of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Canine Search and Rescue Unit (MARK9).

This is the second year faculty from the Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine and several podiatry students from Midwestern University in Phoenix have hosted the Bone Identification Workshop.

“Most of our members are not doctors or veterinarians, so they’re laypersons and so they don’t know a clavicle from a femur,” Jenkins said.

The idea is that when local Search and Rescue team members come across a bone, they can identify if it looks like it could be human bone, or if it needs to photographed and reported.

“Or say no, that’s just a cow bone, nothing to worry about,” Jenkins said.

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