Most Famous Forensic Anthropologist With Their Achievements and Discoveries

Finding all the important and famous forensic anthropologists could be a tedious task and it takes a lot of time for you.

Because it is not only boring but also required deep research.

However, a list of famous forensic anthropologists is very important for the preparation of various entrances examination of forensic science.

I will try to give only vital information that you need for paper prospective and general learning related to popular names of forensic anthropologists.

If you just come here to know the most influencing forensic anthropologists, the table will guide you with that.

But Wait! It’s just a glimpse of the whole article. Be seated. 

We are now going to dive deeper into the oceans of dead skeletons to find the pioneering hands for the development of forensic anthropology.

In this article, we are not going to learn about the most famous forensic anthropologist but also the non-common ones that became an indispensable part of its development. 

1. Jeffries Wyman (1814 – 1874)

Jeffries Wyman solves the parkman murder case

Jeffries Wyman was Harvard’s anatomy professor who was known to be the reason for the convicting of the culprit of the Parkman murder case.

Parkman Murder Case:

Deceased: Dr. George Parkman was a physician and well reputable personality who donated his lands to Harvard University. 
Culprit: Dr. Webster, a chemistry professor at Harvard, who borrowed money from Dr. Parkman
Motive: Webster killed Parker to avoid paying back the debt.

In 1849, Webster murdered Parkman and mutilated his body in parts. He put the body parts in a septic tank and burned the Parkman’s head in the furnace. 

To aid the investigation, two of Harvard’s anatomy professors, Jeffries Wyman and Oliver Wendell Holmes were called.

They arranged the skeletal remains and predicted the anatomy of a person whose description matches Dr. Parkman. Meanwhile, the denture was found in the furnace. 

This both leads to the conviction of Webster.

Major Contributions of Jeffries Wyman


  • Helps in solving Parkman Murder Case


  • Professor Jeffries Wyman: A Memorial Outline (1874) (Written by Oliver Wendell Holmes)

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2. Thomas Dwight (1843–1911)

In the United States, Dwight is considered as the father of American Forensic Anthropology because he was the first who discuss “how to identify skeletal remains”.

Another reason for the title of “father of forensic anthropology in the US” is, he was the only one who finds the need for the determination of age, sex, and stature from skeletal remains. 

He succeeded O.W. Holmes in the “Parkman Professorship of Anatomy” position at Harvard.

Major Contributions of Thomas Dwight

Articles & Publications

  • The Identification of the Human Skeleton- A Medico-Legal Study


  • Clinical Atlas of Variations of the Bones of the Hands and Feet

3. George Dorsey (1839–1931)

He got his doctorate in anthropology from Harvard in 1894. Dorsey’s major finding was at the Field Museum of National History, Chicago.

Later, George Dorsey aids in a famous case, “Leutgert murder”

Leutgert Murder Case

In Chicago, a sausage maker named “Adolph Luetgert” killed his wife by bagging him in a vat of potash. The action of potash dissolved most of his wife’s body except four small bones and a ring (which she daily wore).

Dorsey predicts that the bones are from the human rib, hand, and foot which lately help in convicting the Leutgert for his wife’s murder.

However, many other anatomists criticize Dorsey for his testimony and conclusion which was one of the reasons why he ends his career in forensics, and later he joined the US. Navy.

But after a century, Stewart 1979 believes that Dorsey’s assertions about the skeletal remains were correct. 

Major Contributions of George Dorsey

Helps in Solving Cases:

  • Leutgert Murder Case

Articles & Publications:

  • Use of articular surface of long bones in sex determination.
  • Humeral head diameter can be used for sex determination more accurately than the femoral head diameter.


  • Field Columbian Museum; Publication No. 88; Anthropological Series. Vol. VII, No. I; Traditions of the Osage.

4. Harris Hawthorne Wilder (1864–1928)

Harris Hawthorne Wilder contribution to forensic anthropolgy

By profession, Harris Hawthorne Wilder was a zoologist and anatomist but some authors also called him a forensic anthropologist.

He majorly dealt with personal identification by dermatoglyphics and facial reconstruction using skulls.

Major Contributions of Harris Hawthorne Wilder

Selected Work & Discoveries:

  • Wilder was the first to suggest that the centers of disturbance of primate friction ridge formations represented the locations of the volar pads.
  • Develops the Hypothesis of a relationship between primate friction ridge patterns and volar pads. [NCJS.Gov]

Articles & Publications:

  • Wilder published 39 journal articles and 7 books.
  • On the Disposition of the Epidermic Folds Upon the Palms and Soles of Primates

Major Books:

  • Personal Identification: Methods for the Identification of Individuals, Living or Dead, by Harris Hawthorne Wilder and Bert Wentworth
  • A Laboratory Manual of Anthropometry
  • The Skeletal System of Necturus Maculatus Rafinesque

5. Aleš Hrdlička (1869–1943)

Hrdlička was known for his major achievement in the field and development of physical anthropology.

Moreover, W.M. Krogman entitled Aleš Hrdlička as the founding father of physical Anthropology.

But Why?

Because he founded the two major physical anthropology divisions: 

  • American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA) in 1918
  • American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) in 1928

He majorly works at AJPA as the editor for the rest of his life.

Major Contributions of Aleš Hrdlička

Selected Work & Discoveries:

  • Founder of AJPA and AAPA.
  • Various anthropometry developments and findings such as all human races had a common origin.

Articles & Publications:

  • Authored many publications, majorly for American Journal of Physical Anthropology

Major Books:

  • Practical Anthropometry
  • Physical Anthropology: Its Scope and Aims; Its History and Present Status in the United States

6. Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914)

Major Contributions of Bertillon to forensic

French criminologist and anthropologist, who introduced the “Anthropometric system” also called the “Bertillon system”.

His scientific method is based on physical measurements, photography, and record-keeping that represent the first or a great step toward scientific criminology.

No doubt, his technique was adopted by the police department to identify recidivist criminals. Moreover, Bertillon was the first on the Continent who recognized the value of fingerprints and used it to solve a crime. 

Major Contributions of Bertillon

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • The inventor of the first scientific method of identifying criminals
  • He also created other forensics techniques: 
    • use of galvanoplastic compounds to preserve footprints and ballistics
    • dynamometer used to determine the degree of force used in breaking and entering.
  • Use of photography and improve photographic techniques in criminology

Publications & Books

  • His book Photography: With an Appendix on Anthropometrical classification and Identification (1890).
  • Signaletic Instructions Including the Theory and Practice of Anthropometrical Identification
  • Alphonse Bertillon’s Instructions for Taking Descriptions for the Identification of Criminals, and Others
  • Ethnographie Moderne: Les Races Sauvages (Ed. 1883) 
  • Identification Anthropometrique: Instructions Signaletiques

7. Thomas Wingate Todd (1885–1938)

Todd’s major contribution to forensic anthropology was his interest in aging in the skeleton remains which even today, works as a building block of newer findings. 

By profession, he was a trained anatomist from England but later in 1912 joined the Western Reserve University. 

At the University, he documented 3000 skeletal remains in terms of age, sex, ancestry, stature, weight, cause of death, and case history.

That enormous bundle of skeleton remains helps Todd to depict various findings related to various anthropometry measurements.

Major Contributions of Todd

Selected Work & Discoveries:

  • Endo and ectocranial suture closure for age estimation
  • Development of an age estimation method based on the pubic symphysis
  • Establishment of principles of epiphyseal union
  • Study of human postcranial and craniofacial growth, development, and maturation
  • Differences in limb proportions between American Blacks and Whites

Articles, Publications, and Books

  • Authored more than 200 publications.
  • An Introduction to the Mammalian Dentition

8. Wilton Marion Krogman (1903–1987)

Wilton Marion Krogman forensic anthropology a famous man

Initially, Krogman used to work as a paleontologist and orthodontist and won two major awards including Cleveland Foundation Fellowship in anatomy. 

In later years, he started his dissertation under Todd’s direction and joined as the anatomy and physical anthropology associate professor at Western Reserve University. 

Here he got all the resources for making his work as a pioneer in the development of forensic anthropology.

No doubt! Krogman is one of the most famous forensic anthropologists

His research was the most significant and summarizes—in-depth—the finding metrics for the identification of skeletal remains.

Moreover, the most significant part is, it was the first time that any publication specifically depicted forensic identification using anthropological measures. 

This makes it major acceptance in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Law Enforcement.

To all his work in forensic anthropology and helping in solving various famous cases including “two boy’s skeleton” in London tower, Krogman is popularly known to be “the bone doctor”.

Major Contributions of Krogman

Selected Work & Discoveries:

  • 1st textbook in Forensic Anthropology, “The Human Skeleton in Forensic Medicine” in 1962.
  • Practical application of human osteology to forensics.
  • His findings become the primary reference of major law enforcement agencies.
  • Other than forensic anthropology, his research also helps in understanding child’s growth.
  • Due to his contribution to the field of anthropology, Krogman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1966.

Articles, Publications, and Books

  • The Human Skeleton in Forensic Medicine (1962)
  • “Guide to the Identification of Human Skeletal Material”, a manual in FBI Bulletin (1932)
  • The Growth of Man (1941)
  • Child Growth (1972)

9. Ellis R. Kerley (1924–1998)

The popularity and recognition of forensic anthropologists were started with the action of Ellis R Kerley when he joined the AAFS in 1968. 

Because of his influence, many other physical anthropologists joined AAFS which became the foundation of a distinct authority in the Physical Anthropology section.

Later in 1977, Kerley curated the American Board of Forensic Anthropologists (ABFA) whose sole purpose is to certify forensic anthropologists. 

After a decade of establishing ABFA, he joined the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory as a forensic anthropology consultant and scientific director.

Altogether this makes him titled the “founding father of forensic anthropology” and one of the famous forensic anthropologists.

• Founding father of Physical Anthropology: Aleš Hrdlička
• Father of Forensic Anthropology of US: Thomas Dwight
• Founding Father of Forensic Anthropology: Ellis R. Kerley

Major Contributions of Kerley

Selected Work & Discoveries:

  • Known as founding father of Forensic Anthropology
  • Founder of American Board of Forensic Anthropologists (ABFA)
  • Microscopic approach to the estimation of age at death from human bone [link]

Articles, Publications, and Books

  • Kerley published 40 papers during his lifetime.
  • Forensic Anthropology (book)

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10. William Marvin Bass

William M. Bass is truly called to be a forensic anthropologist whose roots were originated with the work of Ellis R. Kerley— he was Kerley’s student. 

In the 1960s, he started a graduate program in physical anthropology at the University of Kansas. This graduate program itself became the foremost fortunes for building forensic anthropologists

But he didn’t stop here. 

In 1971, he began another anthropology program in the eastern United States that became another handmade factory for a more forensic anthropologist. 

By the time he retired, he curated more than 20 forensic anthropologists making himself the tutor for the 40% of practicing forensic anthropologists by 1995.

Major Contributions of Brass

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • William (“Bill”) Bass is a former custodian of “The Body Farm,” which is the world’s only research facility that specifically studies the decomposition of human bodies.
  • He became the fortune for making at least 40% of forensic anthropologists of the 20th century.
  • His findings were majorly in estimating the time of death and victim identification.

Articles, Publications, and Books

  • Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales.
  • Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual of the Human Skeleton.
  • The Leavenworth Site Cemetery: Archaeology and Physical Anthropology.
  • Human Evidence in Criminal Justice- Co-author
  • Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel (Frictional)

11. Clea Koffs

An anthropologist and author who completed her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska and worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and in 2000 in Kosovo. 

Major Contributions of Clea Koffs

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • Co-coordinator of the Anthropology Laboratory of the UN Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus.
  • Received numerous honors, including the Nancy France Human Rights Book Prize, and was called a top 20 science book by Discover Magazine.
  • At the Missing Persons Identification Resource Center, where she worked and founded to develop forensic profiles to assist in the identification of unidentified bodies which are estimed to be 40,000 in 2013.

Articles, Publications, and Books

  • The Bone Woman: Among the dead in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo (Random House) was translated into eleven different languages and was published in the US, UK, Australia, and in other countries. 
  • Freezing, part of the Jayne & Steelie Mystery Series.

12. Kathy Reichs

American forensic anthropologist, novelist, and professor and also affiliated with the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Quebec.

She is one of 100 forensic anthropologists that are certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is on the board of directors of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Kathy Reichs was an expert witness in the Casey Anthony murder trial. She performed a full skeletal analysis of Anthony’s daughter, Caylee, but she could not determine a cause of death.

Major Contributions of Kathy Reichs

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • In Tanzania to testify at the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
  • She assisted Dr. Clyde Snow and the Foundation for Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology. 
  • Member of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team assigned to assist at the World Trade Center disaster.

Academic Papers

  • Quantified comparison of frontal sinus patterns by means of computed tomography
  • Effect of age and osteoarthritis on bone mineral in rhesus monkey vertebrae, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
  • Forensic anthropology in the 1990s, The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology.
  • Treponematosis: a possible case from the late prehistoric of North Carolina
  • Cranial suture eccentricities: a case in which precocious closure complicated determination of sex and commingling
  • Ontogenetic plasticity in nonhuman primates: I. Secular trends in the Cayo Santiago macaques.

Academic Books 

  • Forensic Osteology: Advances in the Identification of Human Remains
  • Hominid Origins: Inquiries Past and Present


  • Déjà Dead(1997), won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel
  • Death Du Jour
  • Bones Are Forever 
  • A Conspiracy of Bones 

13. Clyde Snow (1928 – 2014)

Major Contributions of Clyde Snow a forensic anthropologist

A well-known U.S. forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow earned his master’s degree in Zoology.

He worked in numerous high-profile investigations including John F. Kennedy, victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, King Tutankhamun, victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, investigation of the 1979 American Airlines crash in Chicago, and Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele.

He became the father of modern-day forensic anthropology because of his work in identifying skeletonized victims of air crashes and mass murders around the world. 

Note: There is more than one who called to be the father of modern forensic anthropology which includes William Marvin Bass, Clyde Snow, and Thomas Dale Stewart.

Major Contributions of Clyde Snow

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • Workaround the world with various human rights groups.
  • He founded and trained forensic anthropology teams that led to international human rights investigations into genocide, war crimes, and massacres in Argentina, Chile, and many other countries.
  • Snow research appears in scholarly journals, book chapters, scientific conference papers, and government reports.

14. Douglas H. Ubelaker

Dr. Ubelaker, forensic and physical anthropology, human osteology, paleopathology, paleodemography.

With expertise in the identification of human skeleton remains, he works in Latin America, with Native Americans, and also assists the FBI in forensic cases.

During the journey, he published numerous articles and monographs that have helped establish modern procedures in forensic anthropology.

He is board-certified in forensic anthropology and teaches a forensic anthropology course at George Washington University.

Major Contributions of Douglas H. Ubelaker

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • Skeletal analysis and mortuary practice in an Early Roman chamber tomb at Kenchreai, Greece.
  • The utility of the frontonasal suture for estimating age at death in human skeletal remains
  • Adipocere: What is known after over two centuries of research
  • Application of three dental methods of adult age estimation from intact single-rooted teeth to a Peruvian sample.


  • Human Skeletal Remains: Excavation, Analysis, Interpretation
  • Bones: A Forensic Detective’s Casebook
  • Forensic Science: Current Issues, Future Directions

15. Thomas Dale Stewart

Thomas Dale Stewart, contribution led to the professional development of forensic anthropology, paleopathology, and related areas of human skeletal biology.

He worked with Aleš Hrdlička, who was entitled as the founding father of physical Anthropology in the Division of Physical Anthropology of the United States National Museum at the Smithsonian Institution.

Major Contributions of Dale Stewart

Major Achievements

  • Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1962. 
  • Charles Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993
  • In 1974, he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
  • In 1981, he became the second recipient (following Ellis R. Kerley) of the Physical Anthropology section award (now renamed as T. Dale Stewart Award).

Note: The T. Dale Stewart Award represents the highest award offered to the member for outstanding contributions in Physical Anthropology.

Articles, Publications, & Books

  • Skeletal Age Changes in Young American Males
  • Essentials of Forensic Anthropology

16. William R. Maples

Popularised American forensic anthropologist working at the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Maples specializes in the bone study.

He worked around the world to examine and identify skeleton remains and worked on several high-profile cases such as:

  • Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his family
  • Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro, who conquered the Incas in 1532
  • Joseph Merrick (known as “Elephant Man”)
  • President Zachary Taylor
  • Medgar Evers. 

Major Contributions of William R. Maples

Articles, Publications, and Books

  • Author of Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Unusual and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
  • Optical and Digital Techniques for Enhancing Radiographic Anatomy for Identification of Human Remains
  • Review of Forensic Analysis of the Skull by Mehmet Yasar Iscan and Richard P. Helmer
  • The Practical Application of Age Estimation Techniques

17. Kewal Krishan

Major Contributions of Kewal Krishan  development of forensic anthropology in India.

He is known for the development of forensic anthropology in India.

Kewal Krishan is an Indian forensic anthropologist, biological anthropologist, forensic scientist, and associate professor of a physical anthropologist.

He is also known for the development of the Heel-Ball Index.

Note: Heel–ball index= (maximum breadth of the heel x 100) / (breadth at the ball region)

His articles were published in many reputed journals of medical and forensic sciences like Forensic Science International, International Journal of Legal Medicine, American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, and so on. 

He is also a member of 18 international and national professional societies including Midwest Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology Association (BARFAA), European Anthropological Association (EAA), American Society of Forensic Podiatry (ASFP), International Association of Identification (IAI), USA. 

Major Contributions of Kewal Krishan

Research and Contribution

  • Analysis of various aspects of human morphology and their forensic applications in Indian populations
  • Articles to the Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences 2nd Edition and Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine 2nd Edition published

Selected Work & Discoveries

  • Forensic podiatry of the north Indian population (heel-ball Index)
  • The effect of body weight and additional bodyweight on the footprints and its interpretation in crime scene investigation
  • Published unique work on the footprint ridge density of the Indian population and its significance in forensic identification.

18. Mildred Trotter

Mildred Trotter was an American pioneer, a forensic historian and a forensic anthropologist, who devised a method to use certain bone length to estimate body height which proven useful to forensic experts.

In his life, she taught about 4,000 students, including Nobel Prize winner Dr. Earl Wilbur Sutherland and Drs. Daniel Nathan.

Major Contributions of Trotter

Awards and Honor

  • Dr. Trotter received several honorary degrees including 
    • Sc.D. from Western College for Women in 1956
    • D.Sc. from Washington University in 1980
  • Woman of Achievement in science in 1955
  • The first woman to receive the Viking Fund Medal in Physical Anthropology 
  • The Mildred Trotter Prize, named in her honor for her work on skeletal biology

Articles, Publications, and Book

  • Her first research paper on bone, “The Moveable Segments of the Vertebral Column in Old Egyptians”.

19. Kari Bruwelheide

An American archaeologist and anthropologist knew for her work as a physical anthropologist, bioarchaeologist, and forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

She works in various high-profile forensic cases, identifies skeletal remains, and determines the cause of death.

Major Contributions of Kari Bruwelheide

  • 17th-century Chesapeake Bay lead coffin excavations
  • Waco Branch Davidian compound victims
  • 17th-century Jamestown Colony excavations
  • H. L. Hunley discovery (Confederate submarine in Charleston Harbor).


The Secretary’s Research Prize is awarded to Smithsonian employees who have done exemplary work in publications, exhibitions, or other research.

20. Karen Ramey Burns

(Worked in the investigation of genocides as well as the identification of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.)

An  American forensic anthropologist, well-known for her work in international human rights.

She completed graduation in forensic anthropology under the direction of the late Dr. William R. Maples at the University of Florida.

By developing experience in major crime laboratory procedures, Dr. Burns’s specialty was the recovery and identification of human remains in criminal, historical, archaeological, and disaster-related circumstances.

She worked in the investigation of genocides as well as the identification of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Apart from this, she had worked on numbers of high profile cases such as the Raboteau Massacre and trial in Haiti, the Río Negro massacre in Guatemala, the identification of the Kazimierz Pułaski remains, and so on…

Major Contributions of Karen R. Burns

  • She works at the University of Utah to taught osteology and forensic anthropology
  • She worked with a non-governmental organization EQUITAS

Articles, Publications, and Books 

  • The Forensic Anthropology Training Manual
  • Protocol for Disinterment and Analysis of Skeletal Remains
  • Amelia Earhart’s Shoes, Is the Mystery Solved?

With this, the post on famous forensic anthropologists and cases ends. We had tried to give you all the information in a very simple and straightforward fashion without any crap that helps you in your exam preparations.

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