The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Sex estimation from the greater sciatic notch: a morphometric approach


Department of Anthropology, The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

Sex estimation is a critical component in the assessment of skeletal remains from forensic and archaeological contexts. Unfortunately, methods used and widely accepted today, specifically visual assessments of the os coxae, rely on the experience of the anthropologist and the completeness of the coxal bones. Here a new quantitative method of sex estimation is proposed that requires only a partial ilium with a complete greater sciatic notch. This method was tested on a sample of 200 individuals of known sex from the Terry Collection housed at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Using a three-dimensional digitizer, three landmarks from the posterior inferior iliac spine, the ischial spine, and the deepest point of the greater sciatic notch were recorded. The distances and angles between these points were calculated, defining the width and depth of the notch. Discriminant function analyses of the linear distances and angles were used to estimate the sex of individuals of known sex with accuracy approaching 96%. Current methods rely on the presence of multiple features of the os coxae in order to estimate sex, which can be problematic in the case of fragmentary remains. This method may permit sex estimation of fragmentary os coxae because the region containing the sciatic notch is fairly robust to taphonomic change and, therefore, tends to survive longer in archaeological and some forensic contexts.

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