Story by Jessica Crabtree
Students in HN 190 had the honor of welcoming guest speaker Mark Beary on Jan. 29. Beary is a forensic anthropologist and an archaeologist.
After earning a degree in anthropology, Beary took a couple of years off from school. He found himself working in a soil science lab, which then turned into a job in field archaeology. He then worked for the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) for about three years where he was able to travel the country.
As Beary traveled, there were many instances where he and others would find skeletal remains. Eventually after going through a coroner, the police, and several others, they would figure out whether the remains were human or animal and what happened.
What really interested Beary was the question of who determined the type of bones that were found. This spark of interest drove Beary to receive a degree in forensic anthropology.
Beary talked about archaeological sites including the Crow Creek Site located in South Dakota along the Missouri River. According to nebraskastudies.org, Village Farmer people attempted to colonize in land to the north. They began building defensive trenches approximately six feet deep and 12-15 feet wide. Before they could finish, they were likely attacked. Archaeologists identified 487 victims found in the trench.
Beary also explained what forensic anthropologists can determine by examining remains. They can determine age, gender, ancestry, and stature.
“It was interesting to see someone who is in this field,” Pre-Med sophomore Mathilde Meyenberg said. Meyenberg is also interested in the field of forensic anthropology. “It’s very cool to see and learn from someone that does this kind of work.”
Beary now works at the University of Missouri where he is also working toward getting a doctorate degree.
Photo: Taking place is a forensic recovery scene where they had to “wet screen” to recover fragments of human skeletal remains that were discovered during a land clearing operation. The skeletal remains had been run over by some heavy equipment and recovery of the bone fragments required washing through the sediment to locate the fragments. In that particular case, an individual had committed suicide in a wooded location and the skeletal remains were not located until the area was being cleared for a housing development.(Photo courtesy of Mark Beary)