Forensic palynology has been a law enforcement tool for over 50 years. Forensic palynology is the application of pollen and spores in solving legal issues, either civil or criminal. Pollen and spores can be obtained from an extremely wide range of items, including bodies. Pollen and spores provide clues as to the source of the items and the characteristics of the environments from which the material on them is sourced.
|Published (Last):||2 October 2005|
|PDF File Size:||14.99 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||5.59 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.
Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. Despite being sure to provide her with plenty of exercise, you notice that your Yorkshire terrier has been gaining weight.
You think someone has been sneaking her treats when you are not watching. Yorkie likes to take her afternoon nap in your lily garden, so you decide to investigate. Searching the flowerbed, you discover suspicious shoe prints, bent flowers and some unfinished meatballs.
You are definitely onto something. You check in your younger brother's closet and see that his shoes have mud on the soles and lily stamen lodged in the laces.
His jacket has the tell-tale orange stains of lily pollen. You have found the culprit. While you may not be a professional, you just utilized forensic palynology to solve your case. Forensic palynology refers to the use of pollen and spore identification and analysis to investigate civil or criminal cases.
Pollen and spores are the tiny, powder-like reproductive units of plants. Pollen is utilized in sexual reproduction. In fact, the term 'palynology' is based on the Greek word for 'the study of powder and dust. Pollen and spores have several characteristics that make them useful for forensic analysis.
Both are produced in large quantities, are relatively resistant to destruction and have unique appearances that allow different species to be identified with a microscope. Since pollen is designed to be transported from its plant of origin via wind, water or animals, it is easily transferred or deposited onto people or other items - like the stains on your younger brother's jacket. Samples collected from crime scenes, people's clothing or hair, or car tires can be used to circumstantially link two people, places or objects, just as the mud and stamen on your brother's shoes linked him to the lily bed.
Let's get a better idea of how this works in practice. The following examples are all true cases that were solved with the help of forensic palynology. The earliest documented case of police using pollen to solve a crime occurred in Austria in A man disappeared during a trip down the Danube River.
Even though his body could not be found, he was presumed murdered. Investigators had little to go on except some mud found on the suspect's boots. A sample of the mud was sent to palynologist Wilhelm Klaus of the University of Vienna for analysis.
Klaus discovered that the mud contained spruce, willow and alder pollen as well as a million-year-old hickory pollen grain from an exposed Miocene-aged deposit. There was only one small area along the Danube River that contained this exact combination of pollen. Investigators told the suspect that not only did they know that he killed the man, they knew exactly where he did it. The defendant was so shocked that he confessed to the crime and led authorities to grave which, incidentally, was within the region identified by Professor Kraus.
The small town of Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina was the site of a horrific mass killing during the Yugoslavian civil war, the deadliest European conflict since World War II.
In , the town was overrun by Bosnian Serb soldiers who executed more than 7, Muslim men and boys. The Bosnian authorities attempted to cover up the genocide. They exhumed the mass graves and re-buried the victims in smaller graves, claiming that they were casualties of separate, smaller battles. Professor Tony Brown of the University of Exeter was part of a team of forensic analysts whose job was to link the many secondary burial sites to a few primary ones.
Soil samples were taken from the skeletons, the graves and from around the burial sites. Pollen and spores from the soil were isolated, cleaned and analyzed.
The examination provided evidence that the bodies had been moved. For example, one of the primary burial sites was a wheat field. Remains found in secondary sites were linked to the original mass grave through the presence of distinctive grains of wheat pollen.
These findings, along with other evidence, were used to convict the war criminals. In , the architect of the massacre, Radovan Karadzic, was found guilty on ten charges, including genocide.
In , the remains of a female toddler were found in a garbage bag in Boston Harbor. There were no clues beyond the clothing found inside the bag. The cause of death was unknown. Investigators enlisted the help of Dr. Andrew Laurence, the head palynologist for U.
Customs and Border Protections. Laurence carefully removed pollen and spore samples from the child's clothing and hair. He then spent several days identifying and counting the grains under a microscope. Laurence recognized several species of cedars, oaks and pines that were native to Massachusetts.
Additionally, he found traces of soot and pollen from cedar trees that grew in the Boston Arboretum. This evidence all indicated that she had resided within the city of Boston. Investigators now knew where to focus their search and soon identified the child as two-year-old Bella Bond.
Rachelle Bond, the child's mother, and her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, were quickly brought into custody. Bond testified against her boyfriend and pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact. In , McCarthy was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder.
Forensic palynology is the use of pollen and spore analysis to investigate civil and criminal cases. Pollen and spores have several characteristics that make them useful for forensics: they are resistant to destruction, they are easily transferred onto people, clothing and other objects, and different species have distinct appearances so they are readily identifiable.
Palynologists have successfully used pollen analysis to solve murders, identify bodies and even convict Bosnian war criminals. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Create your account. Already a member? Log In. Already registered? Log in here for access. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities.
You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level. To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page. Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Log in. Sign Up. Explore over 4, video courses. Find a degree that fits your goals. Try it risk-free for 30 days. Instructor: Joanne Abramson Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.
Save Save Save. Want to watch this again later? Most of us don't think about pollen outside of allergy season.
But it turns out pollen is more useful than you think. This lesson discusses how pollen analysis is used to investigate and solve crimes. What is Forensic Palynology? Several difference species of pollen viewed with scanning electron microscope.
Collecting evidence from a crime scene. Case Studies of Forensic Palynology Let's get a better idea of how this works in practice.
The Missing Body in Vienna, Austria, The earliest documented case of police using pollen to solve a crime occurred in Austria in Investigation into the Srebrenica Massacre, The small town of Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina was the site of a horrific mass killing during the Yugoslavian civil war, the deadliest European conflict since World War II. A memorial for the victims of the Srebrencia Massacre.
Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more? Lesson Summary Forensic palynology is the use of pollen and spore analysis to investigate civil and criminal cases.
Register to view this lesson Are you a student or a teacher? I am a student I am a teacher. Unlock Your Education See for yourself why 30 million people use Study. Become a Member Already a member? What teachers are saying about Study.
Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. Despite being sure to provide her with plenty of exercise, you notice that your Yorkshire terrier has been gaining weight.
Forensic Palynology: Why Do It and How It Works
The investigation quickly hit an impasse. Customs and Border Protection. Palynology is the study of pollen grains and other spores. The analysis of the pollen, I learned, was performed by Laurence, who works out of a Houston lab.