Forensic science

The skeleton is key to solving past mysteries

One hot summer’s morning, as a nine-year-old girl living on the rim of a Scottish loch in the hotel owned by her parents, Sue Black was unaware she was about to ‘leave those days of innocence behind’. A man delivering groceries sexually assaulted her. Many years later, Black imagines how this unspeakable childhood trauma might have been written into her very bones. Extreme stress can cause a temporary halt in the growth of a child’s arms or legs, which leaves a ‘Harris line’ that is visible on X-ray. This white mark would have said what she couldn’t. The abuse remained secret for a decade, and when she finally told her