Thursday, January 21, 2016
While getting ready for work, a wonderful thought comes to me. Wouldn’t it be fun to work up the patterned injury on SUE’s jaw like a human bite mark case? For those who don’t know, I am a general dentist and a forensic dentist. I am a diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) and I knew that in February we were going to vote on updated guidelines for bite mark evidence. We could examine SUE’s patterned injury, then evaluate it using the new guidelines.
Since SUE was an animal and not a human, I thought of my colleague, Dr.Ken Cohrn. He is a forensic dentist in Florida who has worked on several animal bite mark cases and helped me a few years ago with a dog bite case.
Before heading to work, I emailed Ken the pictures of the plaque by SUE’s display and the smart board that talked about the holes in SUE’s jaw and told him I was going to contact the museum to see if the paleontologists would be willing to talk with us and to see if we could work up the bite mark as a forensic case. The email went out at 9 am. He answered back at 10 am, “That would be great fun. Let’s do it!”
So after googling the Field Museum’s phone number, I called them and left a brief message with what we proposed to do, and waited with bated breath…and waited, for several hours, but nothing. The hero of this story is Carolyn Larson, who is a hygienist at our office and heard my laments about not getting a call back from the museum. (To their defense, I had called the number for patrons; so, not the correct number.) Normally she is very busy cleaning teeth and taking x-rays and helping people with their oral hygiene, but this day one of her patients did not show up for their appointment. So she very kindly used her time to find an email address for the Field Museum. Not only did she find one, but she found the right one, because it was for research.
The email was sent at 4:58 pm. It explained not only what I wanted to do, but also that I was a forensic dentist and that I had done a research project at the Field Museum in 2003. There was no waiting with bated breath this time, as I knew the museum closed at 5 pm. Ken had been copied in on the email and replied to me:
Great. Let's see where this goes.
We had no idea. =)