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Viability of Bos taurus scapulae as a flat bone proxy for ballistic testing
  1. Seth C Taylor1,
  2. D C Kieser1,
  3. N Hammer2,
  4. B Ondruschka3,
  5. E Kranioti4,
  6. A Pullen5 and
  7. G Hooper1
  1. 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. 2Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, Dresden, Germany
  3. 3Universität Leipzig Medizinische Fakultät, Leipzig, Germany
  4. 4Department of Forensic Sciences, University of Crete Faculty of Medicine, Heraklion, Greece
  5. 5Balllistics and Personnel Protection, New Zealand Defence Force, Devonport, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Seth C Taylor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand; 22sethtaylor{at}


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

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  • Contributors SCT: main author as research was undertaken in course with a PhD programme. DCK, NH and GH: supervisors and editing. EK and BO: editing. AP: statistical analysis.

  • Funding Funding for this study project was provided by the University of Otago.

  • Competing interests All authors have approved the submission. The article is not being considered elsewhere and has not been previously published.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Bos taurus scapulae were acquired from a local butcher. Due to the origin of the tissues from the food chain, no study or ethical approval was deemed necessary.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • 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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