Forensic scientists are currently researching and working on the developments of a new forensic process that uses DNA evidence found at crime scenes to generate a physical description of an individual from the analysis of the DNA. This process is called “Forensic Molecular Photofitting.”
Molecular Photofitting has been used to assist with the identification of remains and guide many criminal investigations by mapping the genes that are linked to skin pigmentation and facial structure. Dr. Mark Shriver, Associate Professor of Antrhopology and Genetics at Penn State has stated that this process will allow forensic scientists to reconstruct the facial features and skin pigmentation of a person. Dr. Shriver’s research of pigmentation, ancestry and facial features has linked DNA that mark a person’s ethnic origin with the gene mix of fixed points on the face, including corners of the mouth and tip of the nose. Shriver believes the collection of ‘”500 facial markers and 500 ancestry markers” would be enough to generate and reveal a face.
Mapping skin pigmentation assisted law enforcement in 2004 with the conviction of Baton Rouge serial killer Derek Todd Lee.
Molecular Photofitting redefines the way science and history views ancestry and genetics, and may one day be used to maximize the effectiveness of our criminal justice system.
For more on this story: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AheadoftheCurve/story?id=6897788&page=1
For a cool book on this topic: Molecular Photofitting: Predicting Ancestry and Phenotype Using DNA by Ph.D. (Author), Tony Frudakis (Author)