'Given terrorism, natural disasters and other mass-fatality incidents seem to dominate news coverage, its never been more important to have an accurate and efficient means of identifying human remains.
........Standards – the data sets we employ – are vitally important to the forensic anthropologist. They are part of the toolkit we use to profile an unknown individual based on morphological variation in their skeletons.
From these we can estimate biological attributes in the skeleton – such as age, sex, stature and ancestry.
Unfortunately, the people that do this job in Australia are being held back by a lack of sufficient, population-specific standards. This is a big issue, with real consequences.
Collections of documented (known age, sex, stature and ancestry) skeletons – which are historically the main source of population-specific data – are largely unavailable in Australia.
This means we generally have little recourse but to apply established skeletal standards from populations that are not representative of modern Australians, but of North Americans and Europeans among others.'
Via Janet Devlin