Forensic anthropology is a component of physical anthropology, the study of human populations from a biological and evolutionary perspective. Physical anthropology itself is a subdivision of anthropology, the study of humans.
Forensic anthropology uses means and goals of physical anthropology to study questions of medicolegal importance, and place them in the appropriate legal context. In doing this, the branch shares a tight bond with osteology (the study of bones), and a forensic anthropologist will often work closely with pathologists, detectives, dental specialists, etc.
There are many facets to this field, and it is considered by many to be the most complex of all forensic sciences; the job of a forensic anthropologist may start at a crime scene, pass through some archaeology techniques, and end with identifying a person, or at least some extremely significant traits. Some of the questions it strives to answer are: "Was the person male or female? How old was the person when he or she died? How tall was the person? Did he or she suffer from any disease or past injury? What was the person’s race or ancestry? How did he or she die?" - and all these can be deduced only from the bones, with satisfactory precision.
The field of forensic anthropology is relatively new - the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the leading authority in forensic sciences in the US traces its beginnings to only 1948. The AAFS is composed of forensic scientists from numerous specialties (e.g., pathology/biology, criminalistics, odontology, and toxicology) and has been publishing leading scientific research papers in its journal, the Journal of Forensic Sciences, since 1956.