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

Sexual dimorphism in the hyoid of recent human populations: a functional morphometric approach


1Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, 2Department of Anthropology, California State University, Sacramento

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Accurately estimating sex of human skeletal remains is crucial for developing the biological profile (age, sex, stature, and ancestry). Methods for identifying other components of the biological profile are most reliably applied when sex is known. Preferred methods for sex estimation using the innominate, cranium, and long bones are not always possible; associated elements may be absent, unreadable due to damage, or yield ambiguous results. Therefore, alternative and supplementary methods for sex estimation are desirable. Recent literature suggests the hyoid may be a reliable source for sex estimation comparable in accuracy to many preferred methods.

This study builds upon previous research by exploring sexual morphometric variation and incorporating a functional perspective with respect to sexual dimorphism in the geniohyoid muscle attachment site. The geniohyoid is associated with sexual dimorphism in the positioning of the hyoid and stresses of vocalization. A total of 61 hyoids (18 female, 43 male) obtained from the Maxwell Museums’ Documented Skeletal Collection (University of New Mexico, New Mexico) were examined. Data were subjected to principal component analysis (PCA) and discriminant function analysis (DFA). PCA revealed no sexual variation in shape, but it did show sexual variation in size. DFA produced two discriminant functions and when subjected to cross validation achieved an overall maximum classification accuracy of 90.1% (95.3% males, 77.8% females) when the geniohyoid attachment depth was included. Results further support use of the hyoid when assessing the sex of unknown skeletal remains.

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