The South African Police Service retains a
record of all individuals who have been found guilty of an offence. These
records include fingerprints as well as data about height and body mass, and
information on build (physique), facial characteristics, hair, teeth,
disabilities, scars, tattoos (photo 7), et cetera. Photographs are filed
The importance of teeth in the estimation of age
has been mentioned (fig 4.15). Comparative studies of the teeth of charred
bodies and the dental records of possible victims are of tremendous value.
Congenital abnormalities and birth defects can
provide additional evidence. Tattoos are often of value, even after other
markings have been destroyed by decomposition. Tattoos often show up better
after the epidermis is lost through the ``slip skin'' phenomenom.
Certain markings can be an indication of a
person's occupation, such as carbon scars on coal miners' skins.