Forensic Science: Comparison of Human Hair & Animal Hair

Human hair and animal hair have some similarities and at the same time they possess a number of differences, especially when it concerns forensic scientists’ explorations. Comparing hair color, shape, size, form, diameter, cuticle, thickness, and other configurations, it is possible to easily separate human hair from animal hair. The length of hair is the first obvious difference between humans and animals. As known, animal hairs reach certain length and stop its growth, while human hairs naturally grow long and do not stop its growth. Comparing human hair and animal hair, both consist of protein such as keratin melanin, and both human and animal hairs have similar structure. As known, “the hair identification process involves the examination and comparison of hair characteristics along the entire length of the hair(s)… longer hairs have more characteristics to compare, and the greater the variation along the length, the greater the degree of significance” (Deedrick, 2000). Hair identification process involves the questioned hair, a standard reference collection, literature references, all necessary equipment, the list of hair characteristics, and the examiner (WhatWhenHow, n.d). Hair identification helps to determine whether a hair is human or animal, and classify hair type. Using certain equipment and hair microscopy, scientists explore hair anatomy and growth, lengths and diameter (as know, human hairs are longer than animal’s hair; and their diameter also differs). Scientists also examine color and shape of hairs; animal’s hair has thicker medulla, which serves for their protection from cold weather, while human hairs are thinner. Animal hair also differs from human hair with its unusual, brush-like shape, that possesses many different types and animal hair has absolutely different roots comparing with human hair. Through the use of cuticle scanning, examining protective factors, analyzing pigmentation, and DNA identification, it is possible to separate human hair from animals. Thus, in forensic science, using hair identification/comparison it is possible to determine the type of hair examining its length, diameter, medulla, color, shape or shaft, scales, and so on.     

References:

Deedrick, D.W. (2000). Foresntic Science Communication, Hair Evidence. Retrieved from https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/july2000/deedric1.htm

WhatWhenHow (n.d).  Identification of Human and Animal Hair. Retrieved from http://what-when-how.com/forensic-sciences/identification-of-human-and-animal-hair/

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