The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

An Evaluation of Three Sternal Rib End Age Estimation Techniques


Criminal Justice, Michigan State University

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The estimation of age is essential in the fields of physical and forensic anthropology; therefore the accuracy of these methods needs to be evaluated. Currently, there are multiple methods available for age estimation, including sternal rib end aging, which was specifically evaluated in this research.

Three sternal rib aging techniques, İşcan et al. (1984, 1985), Hartnett-Fulginiti (2007, 2010), and Oettlé and Steyn (2000), were the focus of this study. The main objective was to determine the overall accuracy of each method, as well as examine differences in rates of accuracy between European-Americans and African-Americans. The primary research questions addressed were: 1. Does the Oettlé and Steyn method more accurately assess the age of African-American individuals, and 2. Does the Hartnett-Fulginiti method more accurately assess the age of all individuals. It was hypothesized that there would be statistically significant differences in the rates of accuracy between European-Americans and African-Americans.

Data was collected from the Hamann-Todd and WM Bass collections. The sample consisted of 414 male and female right fourth sternal rib ends from individuals of both European and African ancestry, ranging in age from 14 to 97 years.

Results indicate that although the Oettlé and Steyn method was designed specifically on individuals of African ancestry from South Africa, it proved to not be as effective in the United States. Conversely, the Hartnett-Fulginiti method proved to be the most accurate method for all individuals, demonstrating that the Hartnett-Fulginiti method is a valuable age estimation technique in the field of physical anthropology.

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