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NIST, October 11, 2022: Forensic Bitemark Analysis Not Supported by Sufficient Data, NIST Draft Review Finds

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has reviewed the scientific foundations of bitemark analysis, a forensic technique in which marks on the skin of a biting victim are compared with the teeth of a suspected biter. NIST has published its findings in a draft report, Bitemark Analysis: A NIST Scientific Foundation Review, which will be open for public comment for 60 days. The authors will consider all comments submitted before publishing a final version of the report.

NIST scientific foundation reviews fill a need identified in a landmark 2009 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which called for research to address issues of accuracy, reliability and validity in many forensic science disciplines, including bitemark analysis.

The draft review finds that “forensic bitemark analysis lacks a sufficient scientific foundation because the three key premises of the field are not supported by the data. First, human anterior dental patterns have not been shown to be unique at the individual level. Second, those patterns are not accurately transferred to human skin consistently. Third, it has not been shown that defining characteristics of those patterns can be accurately analyzed to exclude or not exclude individuals as the source of a bitemark.”  more

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