Frequently Asked Questions

Why are your prices not listed?

Before providing any quotation, Forensic Science and WildLife Matters undertakes a consultative process with clients in order to ensure the most efficient route(s) which will best suit the needs of the client.

What exactly is involved the microscopical analyses of animal (non-human) and human hair?

All mammalian hairs bear microscopical structures that enable identification of the animal or origin as originating from a particular group of mammal.

The following publication discusses microscopy of hair in greater detail and may be of interest :
Morphological identification of animal hairs: Myths and misconceptions, possibilities and pitfalls,  Tridico, SR, Houck, MM, Kirkbride, KP, Yates, BC: Forensic Science International, Vol. 238, pp. 101-107 (2014).

Why conduct microscopical examinations of non-human hair/human hair, when we have DNA typing?

Early in an investigation, conducting microscopical examination of hairs may provide law enforcement officers with crucial leads, such as the occupation or other characteristics of the offender, or whether hairs from a victim were shed from a living or deceased body.

Microscopical examination is particularly relevant if the hair is not suitable for conventional DNA profiling or if the offender is not on a database. We recommend that microscopical examination is carried out first so that trace evidence and other features can be evaluated before they are destroyed.

For example, this approach successfully resulted in the timely apprehension of an offender in relation to the murder of an elderly lady. A minute flake of spray paint on a limb hair, found adhered to the deceased’s exposed chest guided investigators to a roof spray paint contractor, who was employed by the victim some weeks prior to her death.

Subsequently it was found that his reference DNA profile and the genetic profile obtained from the intimate swabs from the deceased were identical. The spray painter was tried and found guilty of murder.

Does microscopy of hair compromise subsequent DNA analyses?

Adherence to rigorous laboratory procedures throughout the microscopical examination of hair ensures the original integrity of the the hair is maintained. This approach enables credible and scientifically valid DNA analyses.

The success of this approach is evident e.g. in the microscopical and subsequent genetic analyses of hair obtained from 4,000-year-old permafrost-preserved hair. The collaborative approach to the analyses of ancient hair was highly successful and resulted in a publication in the science’s most prestigious journal: Nature.

Rasmussen, Tridico et al Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo (2010), Nature, 463, 7282, pp. 757-62.

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