Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Comparative and Experimental Medicine

Major Professor

Murray Marks

Committee Members

Michael Tabor, Stephen Kania


The science of identification by bite mark analysis has recently been called into serious question. (Reesu and Brown 2016) Human dentition is truly variable, but often not unique. When animal bites are considered, a proper ID of the perpetrator is nearly impossible. Primary distortion (when the bite is made) and secondary distortion (during decomposition or healing) both further disrupt landmarks that might be used for identification. (Sheasby and MacDonald 2001) Using only ink marks and intercanine distance on live subjects, this study attempts to determine maximum distortion possible for a variety of bite mark locations on skin. (Pretty and Sweet 2010) Lower arm, lower leg, upper back where chosen because of the high instance of bites occurring here. (, 2016) Though bite location likelihood does vary with age of the victim, these were relatively consistently common locations across groups. (Karbeyaz & Aranci, 2013) Facial bites were very common, but the face does not present continuous skin and therefore likely not useful for data. It may be an option for future study. Caliper measurements of body fat will also be used, to check for variation of distortion due to malleability of the area in question. It is hoped that this research will produce a numerical value relating the bite mark on the victim to the intercanine distance of the suspect (either human or animal) that will allow a rule-in or rule-out assessment. Also, it is hoped that a hospital protocol can be developed so that bite mark victims are more likely to see justice and the perpetrators accurately identified.

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