HOT paper just out of the oven!

We’re happy to announce the publication of our latest paper entitled Crystal clear: vibrational spectroscopy reveals intra-bone, intra-skeleton and inter-skeleton variation in human bones! This paper was co-authored by David Gonçalves, Ana Rita Vassalo, Adriana Mamede, Calil Makhoul, Giampaolo Piga, Eugénia Cunha, Maria Paula Marques, and Luís Batista de Carvalho.

The objective was to assess how local-specific several chemometric indices, often analyzed through FTIR-ATR, really are in human bone. We analyzed more than a 1,000 samples from human bones. To our knowledge, this was the largest ever sample used in this kind of studies. Hope you like it!

(The image is credited to Adriana Mamede)


2017 has been good to us at HOT Bones. We just got word that we had two more papers published. 

One of them, entitled “Burned bones tell their own stories: a review of methodological approaches to assess heat-induced diagenesis” was published at Applied Spectroscopy Reviews. Is is co-authored by Adriana Mamede, David Gonçalves, Maria Paula Marques, and Luís Batista de Carvalho. If you want a quick overview of what’s being done on Chemical Anthropology regarding burned bones, this paper is a good start!

The second paper was published at Cadernos do GEEvH and is entitled “Por meias medidas: a espessura dos tecidos duros em dentes humanos expostos a altas temperaturas e o seu valor para a estimativa da idade”. It is co-authored by Inês Oliveira-Santos, Márcia Gouveia, Eugénia Cunha, and David Gonçalves. It investigates the association of dentine-cementum proportions with age at death.

Not a bad way to say goodbye to 2017!


HOT Bones was invited to talk about our research to students from Miranda do Corvo under the “Mentes Brilhantes” program. This program aims to increase children’s taste for science. Under Ana Vassalo‘s tutoring, they had a lot of fun and ended up knowing more about their own skeleton in the process. 

We’d like to thank the promoters for the invitation, as well as CIAS and LAF for giving us a hand.  

HOT Bones at the Science & Technology Week!

HOT Bones will participate in the Science & Technology Week taking place from the 20th to the 26th of November. We will be at the Unidade de I&D Química e Física Molecular representing both this unit and the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology of the Center for Functional Ecology to present some of the research we’re doing. We called this initiative “Se achas que há pouca química entre ti e o teu esqueleto, vem ver do que é(s) feito!” (Come see what are you made of, if you think there’s little chemistry between you and your own body”). Find additional information here.


Ana Vassalo and Adriana Mamede presenting their papers at the 16th conference of the INMLCF.

Our colleagues Ana Vassalo and Adriana Mamede represented HOT Bones at the 16th conference of the Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal e Ciências Forenses

Ana Vassalo presented the paper “Gato por lebre: a fauna não é um proxy satisfatório dos humanos em estudos sobre a composição química do esqueleto” (Pig in a poke: fauna is not a reliable proxy of humans in research about the skeletal chemical composition). The remaining co-authors were Adriana Mamede, Maria Paula Marques, Calil Makhoul, Eugénia Cunha, Luís Batista de Carvalho and David Gonçalves.

Adriana Mamede presented the paper “Interrogando ossos queimados: avaliação das alterações térmico-induzidas em ossos humanos usando espectroscopia vibracional” (Questioning burned bones: assessing heat-induced changes in human bones through vibrational spectroscopy). The remaining co-authors were Luís Batista de Carvalho, Ana VassaloDavid GonçalvesCalil Makhoul, Stewart F. Parker, D. Xavier Viegas, Miguel Almeida, and Maria Paula Marques

This was their debut as podium presenters and they’ve done a great job! 

Calil Makhoul is the recipient for the EIT Health 2º Prize Award

We’re very proud of our colleague Calil Makhoul who has been awarded with the second prize for the EIT Health innitiative that took place at the University of Coimbra. This inniciative, that has the University of Oxford and the Imperial College of London as partners, is a seed funding program aimed at PhD students to to develop innovative ideas, products and services on the R&D results of their PhD dissertations. Calil participated with the project “Individualization Systems of Human Burned Remains”.
The awarding ceremony took place yesterday .
Congratulations to Calil!

New publication in Science & Justice!

The paper has the following title “Dead Weight: validation of mass regression equations on experimentally burned skeletal remains to assess skeleton completeness” and tests the MassReg app on the experimentally burned skeletons of the 21st Century Identified Collection of the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology from the University of Coimbra. When compared with the more conventional method of comparing skeletal mass with reference values obtained on modern crematories, the app presented a better performance in most cases. Although initially developed for unburned skeletal remains, the MassReg appears to perform well on burned skeletal remains as well and appears to be a very useful tool to assess how complete a skeleton in combination with bone inventory. 

Media attention to the IRonBONE project

Our latest trip to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory caught the eye of the BBC. Check out the piece broadcasted on the 8th of December of 2016, featuring our collaborators Maria Paula Marques, Luís Batista de Carvalho, Ana Vassalo from the University of Coimbra and Giulia Festa from the University of Rome.

3rd Meeting of the INMLCF

We attended the 3rd Meeting of the Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal e Ciências Forenses that took place on the 9-11th of November, 2016. These were our talks and poster:

Aplicação do método de Lamendin para a estimativa de idade em dentes recentemente extraídos de uma amostra portuguesa actual
Santos I, Gouveia M, Cunha E, Gonçalves D

Estudo pioneiro sobre as variações pós-deposicionais em restos esqueléticos queimados e não-queimados: implicações para a bioantropologia
Amarante A, Ferreira MT, Cunha E, Gonçalves D

Individualização de vestígios humanos queimados dispersos e/ou misturados através da espectroscopia vibracional
Makhoul C, Cunha E, Batista de Carvalho L, Gonçalves D

The Force awakens? O efeito da gravidade na ocorrência de deformação térmico-induzida
Vassalo A, Mamede A, Ferreira MT, Cunha, Gonçalves D