Ned Kelly’s skull- hide and seek champion 1978-2012

September 16, 2012

If you follow the global news you will probably have seen the recent surge in interest of the skull of the infamous Irish Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly.  A recent request by his decendants to have his skull returned so that they could give it proper burial with the rest of his remains (story here); and the resultant claim of ownership by a Kiwi witch (story here) has propelled this media interest.   However, this is not the first time that someone has claimed to be in possession of the bushrangers skull (story here).

Ms. Hoffman is pretty sure she has the goods, but the skull in question is no longer attached to the famous beard and spiffy quiff, so how do we know that the cranium collecting dust in Ms Hoffman’s cupboard is genuinely that of Ned Kelly?

Hoffman skull pic credit.

Ok, so clearly we’re kidding… but if it has nothing to do with hair, how do we identify what skull belongs to which remains?  There is in fact a few different ways this can be done and forensic/anthropological teams will often use more than one.  Some of these are:

  • DNA
  • Facial reconstruction
  • Teeth
  • Measurements and size
  • Suture state
  • Evidence of injury

We aren’t going to talk about them all today as to be perfectly honest- we don’t know about them all.  But seeing this skull has piqued our Craniophile and we are going to do some research!

So keep your eyes peeled, over the next couple of weeks we will be talking about all sorts of skull identification processes- and if you are an archaeologist, anthropologist, forensic scientist…. Please get in touch!  We would love for you to educate us on your favourite identification technique!


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