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Forensic Sci Int. 2015 Dec;257:e16-e19. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.08.020. Epub 2015 Sep 8.

Taphonomic alterations by the rodent species woodland vole (Microtus pinetorum) upon human skeletal remains.

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Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 720 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, United States; Boston University School of Medicine, 72 E. Concord Street, L1004, Boston, MA 02118, United States. Electronic address:


This forensic case report describes the taphonomic effects of woodland vole (Microtus pinetorum) upon a set of skeletonized human remains recovered in Massachusetts, USA. Remains of an individual of this rodent species were discovered where it had been nesting inside the human cranium. Fine, parallel grooves indicative of small rodent gnawing were noted on multiple postcranial elements, and all isolated grooves were consistent in size with the incisors of this species. Other taphonomic alterations to these remains include some gnawing damage and dispersal by large carnivores. This case represents the first report of this rodent species affecting human remains.


Forensic anthropology; Microtus pinetorum; Rodent; Taphonomy; Woodland vole

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