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Drawings of the Cracks on the Kennewick Man's Skull

The full text of Dr. Chatters' Report on the Condition of the Kennewick Man Skeleton on October 28, 1998, is posted on the Tri-City Herald web site, December 20: Chatters tells about bones' condition. The three drawings that accompanied his report are posted here.

Cracking and Breakage

Neurocranium. This fragment is complete, but cracking has increased and is a cause for concern. Three new cracks are present in the base of the skull (Diagram A): two are located in the basioccipital, just anterior to the occipital condyles and oriented in the coronal plane. The left measures 23 mm long and up to 0.8 mm wide and the right 10.5 mm long and narrower. A third occurs in the greater wing of the right sphenoid just lateral to the pterygoid process, also in the coronal plane.

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Cracks that had been present in the right frontal and the left sphenoid, frontal, and parietal have widened and in some cases lengthened. Diagrams B and C show the location of these cracks.

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The crack in the right frontal is located 24 mm medial to frontomalare. In August 1996, it was a 30 mm hairline crack and the medial edge had displaced 0.2 mm anteriorly at the oribtal margin. The crack has lengthened to 36 mm, widened significantly. For descriptive purposes I have numbered segments of this crack system, as shown in Diagram C. The August 1996 condition is based on measurements taken from the cast of the skull, which was completed August 25, 1996.

1. This crack begins in the anterior aspect of the greater wing of the sphenoid, near the body, and ascends this process to approximately 10 mm below pterion. It appears slightly wider than before, but is otherwise unchanged.

2. The crack (1) continues to just above pterion and is separated from other segments by two anterior branches. The portion of the sphenoid and frontal bounded by these cracks was displaced laterally by 0.3 mm in August 1996. It is now displaced 1.7 mm laterally, an increase of 467 percent.

3. This segment in the parietal has widened from a hairline to 0.2 to 0.3 mm.

4. A new 42 mm-long crack has formed posteriorly along the squamous suture from approximately pterion.

5. This segment, extends posteriorly in the parietal from near the coronal suture to posterior to the temporal line. Although it has lengthened only 6 mm (72 to 78 mm), it has widened at its anterior end from 0.3 mm to 0.7 mm.

6. This superior-most segment of the crack system has not lengthened, but has widened from 0.3 to 0.8 mm.

7. This segment in the parietal has widened from 0.3 to 0.7 mm.

An additional pair of cracks has developed in the roof of the left orbit. The medial of these is 22 mm long and is displaced approximately 1 mm; the lateral is a 18 mm-long hairline.

In 1996, upon first noticing the cracks, I took steps to retard the drying of the bone and preserved it with a water based polymer. In addition, to counteract stresses that led to warping, I had bound the skull with two broad rubber bands. These bands have been removed from the skull and their absence may account for some of the severe cracking and displacement of the bone.

Related reports also posted on the Tri-City Herald site:
Plaintiffs report on the skeleton's inventory
is the Plaintiffs' Supplemental Report on the Transfer of the Skeleton, a summary of the reports by Drs. Owsley, Chatters and Ms. Walton submitted to the Court on December 10, 1998.

Owsley details inventory work
is Dr. Douglas Owsley's Report of the Inventory of the Kennewick Skeleton, October 28-29, 1998

Inventory observer recalls process
is Beth Walton's report on the Burke Museum Entrance Inventory on October 29, 1998.

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