Bone Search and Recovery Short Course – Group


  • accessible, online, entry-level course for volunteer or new searchers
  • based on actual research data and experience
  • pre-recorded videos, notes, and open-access published materials
  • up to 8 downloads, ideal for small groups or units


The Bone Search and Recovery Short Course is designed for those who have never been involved with a search involving human remains, or those who have limited experience and need some support. It’s based on the presentations Yvonne conducted for civilian volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) groups and law enforcement. Many volunteer search organizations only receive training in searching for intact humans. Sometimes people who volunteer for searches don’t receive any training at all.

This is a basic, entry-level introduction for civilians, physical anthropology students, and new law enforcement members. This course focuses on the context of outdoor surficially-dispersed remains: what to look for, how to look for it, and where to look. Data presented are based on Yvonne’s original research on patterns in the way remains are scattered due to scavenger activity. It is hoped that this online course will be accessible enough to assist searchers everywhere in their efforts.

This course aims to increase awareness of the importance of context, what bone looks like, how bone can be camouflaged by the environment, and how animal activity can impact a dead body and influence what may or may not be available for recovery.


  • A 2-part pre-recorded video presentation
  • Accompanying presentation notes
  • Open access versions of Yvonne’s thesis and peer-reviewed article on scattered remains
  • Course materials can be downloaded up to 8 times, making it ideal for small volunteers groups and search teams.

What’s covered:

  • What bones look like in a surficial outdoor context
  • Why bones in a surficial outdoor context may scatter / disperse
  • Tips to help searchers discover more remains and items of potential forensic evidence in surficial outdoor settings
  • A definition of context and why it’s important
  • Examples of bone, clothing, and other items of potential forensic evidence
  • An example scenario to apply the learning of the course

What is not covered:

  • There are many ethical implications of using photographs of human remains. Please know that the two images of human remains within this presentation are of individuals that either are without living known relatives from which to seek consent, or are from non-vulnerable populations. I ask that you do not reproduce these images without permission. See this article for more information.
  • This course focuses on searching for and recovering items of potential forensic evidence, including bone. This course does not include information or instruction on distinguishing human and non-human bone.
  • The course is focused on building awareness rather than capacity. If you are looking to build on your existing searching skills or you wish to build capacity in another new area (ie, cremains), please let me know. It may be possible to build a course to your needs.

This course is discounted through COVID-19.

Individual rates can be found here, and student/senior rates are available upon request. 

All revenue generated from course sales will be used to fund research on scavenged and scattered remains. Thank you, in advance, for your purchase!

If you have a story about searching, I want to hear it! Feedback is always good too. Reach out and talk to me.


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