How taphonomic alteration affects the detection and imaging of striations in stab wounds


Stabbing with a kitchen knife is a common methodof homicide in Europe. Serrated knives may leave tool mark-ings (striations) in tissues. Documentation of striations is nec-essary for their use as forensic evidence. Traditional methods(physical casting and photography) have significant limita-tions, and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) has beentrialled in cartilage toBvirtually cast^wounds. Previous re-search has shown the proportion of striations in cartilage fallsfollowing decomposition. This project has investigated theeffects of taphonomic alteration and documentation methodsof striations in porcine skin. Fresh, decomposed, mummified,burnt and waterlogged stab wounds in a porcine analoguewere excised and imaged using photography, stereo-opticalmicroscopy and micro-CT. The proportion of striations ineach taphonomic group was determined from the images byindependent analysts. Striations were observed more frequent-ly in serrated blade wounds, although they were also identifiedin non-serrated blade wounds. The proportion of woundsshowing striations declined following decomposition. An in-versely proportional linear correlation between advancing de-composition and proportion of striations existed. Dehydration(mummification and burning) rendered serrated and non-serrated blade wounds indistinguishable. Water compositionaffected the preservation of striations. Identification ofstriations gradually declined after decomposition in tap water,but persisted to a point when left in brackish water. All threetechniques imaged striations; however, the optimum tech-nique was stereo-optical microscopy due to practical advan-tages and specific limitations affecting photography and mi-cro-CT. This study demonstrates the effects of taphonomicalteration on striations and suggests stereo-optical microscopyis the optimum method for their documentation.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2017. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forensic imaging, Stabbing, Taphonomy, Micro-computed tomography, Striations, Serrated blade .
Publication ISSN: 1437-1596
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 08:17
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2017 11:45
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://link.sp ... 10.1007%2Fs0041 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2017-10-29
Accepted Date: 2017-10-11
Authors: Stanley, Sophie A.
Hainsworth, Sarah V. (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-9907-1236)
Rutty, Guy N.



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

| Preview

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record