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Viability of Bos taurus scapulae as a flat bone proxy for ballistic testing


Background Handguns and rifles are often involved in violent deaths such as homicide and suicide. Consequently, forensic investigations are important to clarify the nature of ballistic trauma.

Methods This study investigated the differences in entrance and exit wound morphology with Bos taurus (bovine) scapulae that have two cortical layers surrounding a central cancellous bone section which are comparable with human flat bones, with a series of experiments using six different calibres (0.22 Long Rifle, 9×19 mm North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 0.40 Smith & Wesson, 0.45 Automatic Colt Pistol, 5.56×45 mm and 7.62×51 mm). B. taurus (bovine) scapulae were used for closed range 30 cm simulated executions.

Results The ballistic experiments presented similarities in entrance wound morphology and exit wound bevelling with that of recognised forensic cases. As muzzle velocity increased, bevelling increased. Circumferential delamination is clearly visible with full metal jacket rounds, yielding similar bone damage morphology as human crania.

Conclusion Bovine scapulae seem appropriate for ballistic simulations of flat bone injuries on the macroscopic level, if the correct portion of the scapulae is deployed. More research is needed to further substantiate these interpretations.

  • anatomy
  • forensic medicine
  • trauma management
  • forensic pathology
  • wound management

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data are stored in a data repository and available on request from the corresponding author.

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