Forensic Scientist Claims to Have Solved the Amelia Earhart Mystery

Pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937, and we’ve been wondering about her fate ever since. A re-examination of a forensic analysis performed in 1941 shows that bones found on a remote south Pacific island belonged to Earhart—a conclusion reached with a splashy 99 percent number attached to it. Sceptics, on the other hand, say the new analysis proves nothing. Read More >>

Dutch Police Are DNA Testing 21,500 Men to Solve a 20-Year-Old Murder

In 1986, a technique called “DNA fingerprinting” was used for the first time in a criminal investigation, when a geneticist named Alec Jeffreys realised that when DNA was extracted from cells and attached to photographic film, it developed as a sequence of bars that could uniquely identify someone. His accidental discovery helped nail the suspect in the murder of 15-year-old Dawn Ashworth. Since then, for better and for worse, DNA has become gold-standard evidence that has led to thousands of convictions. Read More >>

Morbid Experiment Proves This Neolithic Weapon Was an Effective Skull Crusher

Humans have been killing other humans since the dawn of the species, but owing to the poor archaeological record, it’s unclear what sort of weapons our ancestors used to brutalise one another. Using models of human skulls and a replica of a weapon dating back thousands of years, researchers have shown that a bat-like club known as the “Thames Beater” was fit for the task of killing. Read More >>

Scientists Shoot Human Heads Filled With Cow Blood for Science

Science isn’t always telescopes and new species. Some research, like the kind that helps forensics experts better understand crime scenes, requires experiments you might find just a little, well, morbid. Read More >>

That’s Candle Wax, Not Bird Droppings, Staining The Scream

A team of Belgian researchers has closed the case on the origins of a mysterious smudge on Norwegian painter Edvard Munch’s most famous painting, the Scream. Long believed to be bird poo, they found that it is bees wax. Read More >>

Physicists Are Sciencing the Shit Out of Gunshot Blood Spatter  

During the 2007 murder trial of music mogul Phil Spector, forensic experts for the defence and prosecution disagreed on how to interpret the blood spatter patterns on clothing worn by both Spector and his victim, among other disputed physical evidence. The end result was a hung jury, forcing the presiding judge to declare a mistrial. Read More >>

DNA Resolves 80-Year-Old Mystery Behind Belgian King’s Death 

Controversy has long surrounded the presumed accidental death of Belgium’s King Albert I in 1934, with conspiracy theorists crying murder. Now, 80 years later, forensic geneticists have successfully matched DNA from blood found at the scene of his death with that of two of the late king’s distant relatives, hopefully resolving the mystery once and for all. Read More >>

Hundreds of Genes Spring Back to Life in the Days After Death

We assume that all biological processes come to an end when we die, but new research shows that many genes remain active for up to four days following clinical death. These zombie genes can’t bring a person back to life, but this discovery has serious implications for forensics and organ donor recipients. Read More >>

Barking and Dagenham Council Turns to Forensics to Catch Dog Shit Menaces

Barking and Dagenham council has announced plans to track down the owners of dogs who fail to clean up their pets’ mess using doggie DNA. It’s not 1 April is it? The measures seem both ridiculous and slightly terrifying, and would rely on owners registering their pooches on a special dog database. Read More >>

New Chemical Trickery Can Tell Gender From a Fingerprint

Fingerprints may be unique, but without an existing record they can’t help identify a person. Now, though, researchers can use chemical analysis of the prints to identify the gender of whoever left them behind. Read More >>

What Police Can Learn From a Terrorist’s Discarded Mobile Phone

The dramatic raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis that left two dead and eight arrested followed the discovery of a mobile phone by police that was discarded by the terrorists who days earlier had launched their bloody attack. It’s understood that the data police were able to extract from the phone led them to the apartment where others of the gang were hiding. Read More >>

Why Solving Murders is Going to Get a Lot Harder

Carbon emissions aren’t just warming the planet: they’re making it harder to solve crimes. As our atmosphere fills with fossil carbon, scientists will have a tougher time using radiocarbon dating, a standard forensic technique, to analyse human remains and wildlife tissues. Read More >>

How a Forensic Scientist Uses Dirt to Solve Murders 

Stuck to the bottom of your shoe is humble dirt that gives away where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to. It’s up to science to figure out it out. Nature has a fascinating profile of forensic geologist Lorna Dawson, who has used soil to solve decades-old cold cases. Read More >>