NOVA

Wanted—Butch and Sundance

Student Handout

Identifying the Skeletons

You are a scientist specializing in investigating skeletal remains at the Earth Museum of Natural History. In today's mail you receive a package of bones from some archeologists who have been hunting for the last known location of a famous explorer, Gabriela Molina, age 54, and her two assistants, Cordelia Kelley, age 28, and Ian Dumais, age 24. Included in the package are six well-preserved arm and leg bones, each of which is labeled. There is one radius (R1) and one ulna (U1); these are the two bones that connect the wrist and elbow. There are two humerus bones (H1 and H2). The humerus connects the shoulder and the elbow. There are two femurs (F1 and F2). The femur is the large bone in the thigh which connects the hip to the knee.

BONES

The data chart, prepared by your assistant, indicates the length of each of these bones. These measurements can be used to estimate how tall the deceased individuals might have been. Based on ratios between bone lengths and body height, your assistant has calculated possible heights for the people whose bones you received. There is no evidence, however, to show whether the bones belonged to a man or a woman. Since the ratios of bone lengths to body height are different for men and women, the chart includes estimates for both genders. For example, H1 is 39.1 centimeters long, and so could have come from a man who was 186.2-194.2 centimeters tall, or a woman who was 183.2-191.2 centimeters tall. Dr. Molina was approximately five feet five inches tall. Her female associate, Dr. Kelley, was approximately four feet ten inches tall. Mr. Dumais was significantly taller, but your files do not list a specific height for him.

Specimen

Measurement

Male Height Range

Female Height Range

H1

39.1cm

186.2-194.2cm

183.2-191.2cm

H2

32.27cm

164.5-172.57cm

161.2-169.2cm

R1

19.5cm

146.49-154.49cm

141.5-149.45cm

U1

22.5cm

150.9-158.97cm

147.8-155.8cm

F1

49cm

188.5-196.57cm

169.5-177.5cm

F2

45.42cm

180.47-188.47cm

161.02-169.02cm


Questions
Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. From the data on the chart, what evidence supports the theory that these bones might indeed be the remains of the lost scientists?

  2. Which bones could possibly belong to which scientist? How do you know?

  3. Which bone is most difficult to assign to a certain individual? Why?




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