In forensic-genetic investigations of skeletal remains, researchers are confronted with the decision of selecting the skeletal elements that will be used for genetic testing. In the past, several studies were conducted to determine which skeletal elements yielded the best results. One of them is a retrospective study done by Miloš et al. in 2007, in which the highest success rates were observed with samples from dense cortical bone of weight-bearing leg bones (femur) and tooth [
- Miloš A.
- Selmanović A.
- Smajlović L.
- et al.
Success rates of nuclear short tandem repeat typing from different skeletal elements.
]. Misner et al. compared DNA yields between femur, pelvis and rib samples resulting in femur samples performing the best [
- Misner L.M.
- Halvorson A.C.
- Dreier J.L.
- et al.
The correlation between skeletal weathering and DNA quality and quantity.
]. Therefore, the recommendations for genetic identification of skeletal remains include long cortical bone samples of the leg (femur, occasionally tibia) and tooth. These recommendations are supported by the ISFG, Interpol, American National Association of Medical Examiners and the American National Institute of Justice. The same recommendations have been applied in most the studies of ancient DNA (aDNA), which is defined as any DNA that is older than 70 years post mortem interval (PMI) [
Archaeogenetics in evolutionary medicine.
]. Alongside femur and tooth the temporal bone of the skull has been shown to be very efficient in genetic studies of aDNA [
- Pinhasi R.
- Fernandes D.
- Sirak K.
- et al.
Optimal ancient DNA yields from the inner ear part of the human petrous bone.
- Novak M.
- Fernandes D.M.
- Sirak K.A.
- et al.
Improving ancient DNA yields through osteological experimentation: current trends and future implications.
]. The recommended set of bones is not always available for sampling and subsequent genetic testing. In the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster victim identification study they extracted DNA from smaller bones including patellae, metatarsals, and foot phalanges which yielded rates comparable to both femur and tibia [
- Mundorff A.Z.
- Bartelink E.J.
- Mar-Cash E.
DNA preservation in skeletal elements from the World Trade Center disaster: recommendations for mass fatality management.
]. In another study, Mundorff and Davoren systematically researched a larger amount of different skeletal elements in the same skeletons. At increasing PMI, small trabecular bones continued to yield more DNA and more successful STR typing than cortical bones [
Examination of DNA yield rates for different skeletal elements at increasing post mortem intervals.
]. In the analysed literature we could not find studies done on aDNA for which small bones of the hands and feet were used as samples for genetic research. Therefore, the aim of our study was to determine whether obtaining sufficient amounts of DNA and profiling its autosomal STR markers could be successful in small bones of the hands (metacarpal bones and phalanges) and feet (metatarsal bones) of ancient skeletal remains in comparison to skeletal elements proposed in current recommendations (femur, temporal bone, tooth).