What is a bitemark? In which cases bitemarks are found? Forensic Odontology

Bitemarks are distinctive patterns or impressions left on an object or living tissue by an animal or human who used their teeth to bite that object or living

FORENSIC SCIENCEFORENSIC ODONTOLOGY

Shubham Kumar

1/29/20245 min read

In many heinous crimes, like assault, rapes, murder and grievous hurt, one of the most common evidence an investigator get is bitemarks. The bitemarks can either depict a sign of struggle by victim or can depict the severity of accused on victim. In both the cases bitemarks holds prominent grounds in legal investigation.

Bitemarks: All you need to know about its definition, location and significance in forensic odontology.

This informative blog includes the information required to understand the "Concept of bitemarks, types of bitemarks, sexual oriented, child abuse and self-inflicted bitemarks.". Please read it with patience.

What do you mean by Bitemarks?

Bite marks are distinctive patterns or impressions left on an object or living tissue by an animal or human who used their teeth to bite that object or living tissue. They are recognized and seen as a form of physical evidence in various fields of forensic science, including forensic investigations, anthropology, odontology, and forensic wildlife.

The analysis and examination of bite marks are very crucial because it holds potential information about the identity of the biter. Furthermore, revealing their behavior, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Moreover, their dental characteristics like, eating habits, gap between the teeth, or any kind of individual characteristics if present.

Limitation of Bitemarks as Evidence

Bite mark analysis is full of controversy and limitations. While bite marks can provide valuable clues, the accuracy and reliability of bite mark evidence have been a subject of debate in the forensic community. Several cases have surfaced in which individuals were wrongfully convicted based on flawed bite mark evidence. As a result, efforts are ongoing to develop more objective and scientifically validated methods for bite mark analysis.

Cases in which bitemarks are found

Bitemarks are usually encountered in cases like sexual assault, murder, child abuse, assault, grievous hurt, etc.

Sexual Assault Cases:

In cases of sexual assault, bitemarks can serve as crucial evidence in identifying the perpetrator. When a victim is bitten during an assault, the assailant's teeth may leave distinct patterns on the victim's skin. Forensic experts carefully document and photograph the bitemark to ensure a proper record of the evidence.

Bitemark analysis involves comparing the characteristics of the bitemark with the dental impressions of potential suspects. Forensic odontologists use specialized techniques to match the size, shape, and spacing of the teeth, as well as any unique dental features, to determine the likely source of the bite. This information can then be presented in court as evidence to link the suspect to the crime.

Murder Cases:

Bitemarks are also significant in murder investigations, especially when the victim's body shows evidence of bite wounds. Just as in sexual assault cases, forensic experts document and photograph the bitemarks on the victim's body to preserve the evidence.

In murder cases, bite mark analysis can be used to identify the assailant or provide additional information about the circumstances of the crime. By comparing the bitemark with dental records or impressions of potential suspects, investigators may be able to establish a link between the assailant and the crime scene. The presence of a bitemark on a victim's body can also offer insights into the manner of attack and potentially provide evidence of a struggle.

Child Abuse Cases:

In cases of child abuse, bitemarks may be observed on the bodies of the victims, particularly on their arms, legs, or face. Identifying and analyzing these bitemarks can be crucial in determining if abuse has occurred and in identifying the perpetrator.

Bitemark analysis in child abuse cases involves careful examination and documentation by forensic experts. The patterns left by the teeth can provide insights into the size and shape of the biter's mouth, potentially aiding in suspect identification. Additionally, the location and severity of the bitemarks can reveal the nature of the abuse and may corroborate other evidence or testimonies.

Assault and Grievous Hurt Cases:

In cases of assault or grievous hurt, bitemarks can be critical evidence linking the accused to the crime. Whether the injuries are sustained during a physical altercation or an act of violence, bitemark analysis can provide valuable insights into the incident.

Forensic experts document and photograph the bitemarks and may create impressions to preserve the evidence. By comparing these bitemarks with the dental records of suspects, investigators can establish a potential link between the assailant and the victim.

Types of Bitemarks

Bitemarks are classified into 3 types: Sexually oriented bitemarks, Child abuse bite marks and self-inflicted bitemarks.

Sexually Oriented Bitemarks:

These bitemarks are most commonly encountered during sexual assault offenses. Sexually oriented bitemarks appear to have been imposed slowly and intentionally with suction applied to the tissues by the tongue and lips. The resultant injuries exhibit central or peripheral marks, usually imposed by the interior teeth, and the marks are of good definition. The amount of distortion and the quality and depth of the bite marks can also justify whether the victim was active or passive.

Sexually oriented bite marks are a specific type of bite mark that can be found in cases of sexual assault or offenses of a sexual nature. When someone is sexually assaulted, the assailant may use their teeth to bite the victim's body, leaving distinctive marks. These bite marks are different from other types of bite marks because they are deliberately and slowly inflicted, often involving the use of the tongue and lips.

Child abuse bite marks:

In child abuse bite marks cases are the most crucial evidence in detecting the culprit, and it's also the prime evidence in justifying that the child has been physically abused. The child abuse bite marks can either be aggressive or sexually oriented.

Child abuse bite marks are bite marks that are found on the bodies of children who have been physically abused. These bite marks can be crucial evidence in detecting the perpetrator and supporting the child's claim of abuse. When a child is abused, the person inflicting harm may leave bite marks on the child's arms, legs, or face.

Self-Inflicted Bitemarks:

Self-inflicted bite marks are those bite marks which are imposed by the same person only, usually to create fake evidence or to falsely claim assault against another person, usually out of greed and revenge. The self-inflicted bite marks are mostly found on the forearms, imposed by themselves.

In cases of child abuse, sometimes the bite marks on the forearms are of the child only, but there is a possibility that the accused may push the arms into the child's mouth to stop its crying; the intense pain leads them to bite their own forearms to overcome the suffering. In cases of mental torture or mentally disturbed people, there is a possibility that they bite themselves out of mental trauma or psychological defect.

This blog contains valuable insights as per the requirements of skills by Forensic Science Laboratories. We aim to provide a collective and informative knowledge to other viewers so that they can understand the Concept of bitemarks, cases in which the bitemarks can be found, and types of bitemarks.

Reference

  • "Forensic DNA Typing" by John M. Butler

  • "The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation" by Ngaire E. Genge

  • "Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction" by Jim Fraser

  • "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" by Ross M. Gardner