The reproducibility of incomplete skulls using freeform modeling plus software
Gentiluomo, Gina Marie
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As early as 1883, forensic artists and forensic anthropologists have utilized forensic facial reconstruction in the attempt to identify skulls from decomposed remains. Common knowledge dictates that in order to complete identification from the skull with facial reconstruction, the splanchnocranium (also known as the viscerocranium or facial portion of the skull) needs to still be intact. However, there has been very little research conducted (Colledge 1996; Ismail 2008; Wilkinson and Neave 2001) to determine the minimal amount of intact skull that can be present for a reconstruction to still be possible and accurate. Accordingly, in the present study, the researcher attempted to prove that a skull with significant damage to the splanchnocranium could be repaired and facially reconstructed to bear a likeness to the original skull and face. Utilizing FreeForm Modeling Plus Software, version 11.0 (Geomagic Solutions - Andover, MA), in conjunction with the Phantom Desktop Haptic Device (Geomagic Solutions - Andover, MA), five CT scans of males between 19 and 40 years old and of varying ethnicities (four Caucasian and one Asian) were digitally altered to present significant skull damage to the splanchnocranium. The hard tissue digital images were repaired using the same software mentioned above and template skulls (i.e., superfluous CT scanned skulls of similar age, sex, and ancestry). The soft tissue digital images were facially reconstructed also utilizing the same software mentioned above and by following basic tissue depth charts/placement rules and guidelines for feature reconstruction. The reconstructed images were compared to their original CT scans in a side-by-side comparison. Assessors were given a rating scale rubric to fill out that asked them specific questions pertaining to both certain facial features and overall similarity between the original and reconstructed images. Two of the reconstructions each ranked an overall 29% "close resemblance" to their original counterparts, one was ranked an overall 71% "no resemblance" to its original counterpart, and the other three fell somewhere in the middle ("slight" or "approximate") in the rating scale. The results reflected a number of issues related to this project (i.e., the researcher's lack of artistic skill) and to facial reconstruction in general (i.e., tissue depth measurement charts) and showed that while it is not impossible to reconstruct skulls that had been damaged in some capacity, the accuracy of the resulting facial reconstruction is questionable. Future studies would benefit from using an artist to reconstruct the images rather than someone with little to no experience in the field, a larger sample size consisting of one ancestry to avoid the cross-race effect, a comparison of the original skull to the repaired one utilizing Geomagic Qualify (Geomagic Solutions - Andover, MA) to glean an overall view of the project's accuracy, and utilization of a photo lineup as the method of comparison in addition to a side-by-side comparison to give a more realistic feel to the comparison process.