Weathering or long-term burial may cause profound morphological and histological changes in hair, which may affect the results of forensic and archaeological investigations. We therefore used ultramicroscopic techniques to assay the changes in weathering hair shafts caused by burial for up to 25 years. We found that the middle portion of hair shafts from living individuals shows the expected histological hair structure, while the cuticle layer was absent from the terminal portion of the same hairs, which may be due to the increased weathering experienced by the terminal portion. In hair samples taken 5 years after death, no significant changes in morphology were observed. By 15 years after death, however, we observed losses in various layers of the hair, including the cuticle layer. At 25 years after death, hair shafts showed a number of pores extending into the medulla, with only some hair shafts retaining their cortical layers. To our knowledge, this is the first ultramicroscopic study on weathering of hair for up to 25 years after death. Our results may therefore provide a basis for similar studies in the fields of forensic science and physical anthropology.
- Electron microscope
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine