Forensic Scatology: Preliminary Experimental Study of the Preparation and Potential for Identification of Captive Carnivore Scat Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Carnivore scats recovered from animal attack and/or scavenging contexts frequently contain forensic evidence such as human bone fragments. Forensic cases with carnivore involvement are increasingly prevalent, necessitating a methodology for the recovery and analysis of scat evidence. This study proposes a method for the safe preparation of carnivore scat, recovery of bone inclusions, and quantification and comparison of scat variables. Fourteen scats (lion, jaguar, lynx, wolf, and coyote) were prepared with sodium-acetate-formalin fixative; analytical variables included carnivore individual, species, body size, and taxonomic family. Scat variables, particularly bone fragment inclusions, were found to vary among carnivore individuals, families, species, and sizes. The methods in this study facilitate safe scat processing, the complete recovery of digested evidence, and the preliminary identification of involved animals. This research demonstrates that scat collected from forensic contexts can yield valuable information concerning both the victim and the carnivore involved.

publication date

  • January 2012