1Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2Anthropology, Texas State University
April 12, 2018 , Zilker 1/2/3
The rise in migrant deaths at the South Texas border has created a humanitarian crisis that presents unique challenges to identification. Anthropologists with Operation Identification at Texas State University have received over 200 sets of human remains of presumed Hispanic migrants since 2013 and are actively engaged in identification efforts, including constructing a biological profile for each case. Though not common, some decedents are adolescents whose level of skeletal development can make it impossible to estimate sex based on standard pelvic or cranial morphology, or long bone metrics. However, these subadults often have near-fully developed dentition; therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if dental metrics of the permanent dentition could be used to estimate sex in presumed Hispanic migrants.
The sample consists of 102 individuals (66 male, 36 female) of known sex, based on genetic testing (n=98) or presence of genitalia (n=4). Mesiodistal and buccolingual crown measurements were taken of all permanent dentition present. Independent sample t-tests confirmed canines are the most sexually dimorphic teeth (all p-values <0.05), with mandibular canines being ~6%, and maxillary canines being ~4% larger in males than females. Several logistic regression analyses were performed using various combinations of canine measurements. The calculated logistic regression models explained between 13.7-54.3% of the variation in sex, correctly classified between 65.3-80.0% of cases, and were statistically significant (all p-values <0.05). As such, when other methods of sex estimation are not possible, dental metrics can be useful in estimating sex of presumed Hispanic migrants.