[Plant-education] Botanical forensics lab article

David R. Hershey via plant-ed%40net.bio.net (by dh321 At excite.com)
Fri Jan 26 19:22:51 EST 2007

There is a new online article describing a forensic botany lab for a
plant anatomy and morphology course (Boyd 2006). Students are asked to
see if three murder suspects' alibis hold up by examining the plant
remains in the dried mud on their work boots. Do the plant remains
match the environments where the suspects claim they each worked alone
on the day of the murder, either a bog, an agricultural field or a
woodlot? The mud on one pair of boots indicates that the suspect was at
the murder site (a pond) rather than at his/her worksite.

The scenario is as outlandish and complex as many on the hit TV series
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." All three murder suspects were
biologists and shared a lab with the murder victim, a wildlife
biologist. Unbeknownst to each other, the suspects had all been
romantically involved with the murder victim in recent months. All
three suspects had recently discovered the victim had been romancing
all three. That prompted the three suspects to have a "terrible fight"
with the victim, which other colleagues witnessed. For more mystery,
the sex of the victim and the suspects was left to the students'
imaginations. Another intriguing coincidence (or was it?) was that the
murderer and victim were zoologists while the two innocent suspects
were botanists.

David R. Hershey


Boyd, A.E. 2006. Plants & perpetrators: Forensic investigation in the
biology classroom. American Biology Teacher online 68(9): 145-147.

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