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

Variation by Variation: Differences in Sexual Dimorphism of the Skull between African-Americans and European-Americans


Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University

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This study assesses sexual dimorphism of the skull in samples of African-Americans (AA) and European-Americans (EA). Morphology of the skull is classically referenced as an indicator of sexual dimorphism in the fields of bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Variation in size and shape of cranial elements has been found to differ significantly between ancestral populations. This study uses a sample of 55 AA females, 50 AA males, 49 EA females, and 49 EA males from the Hamann-Todd Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the WM Bass Donated Collection at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Nineteen linear measurements were taken on the cranium and mandible. Initial univariate analysis suggests inconsistent patterns of sexual dimorphism between AA and EA. Further multivariate analysis demonstrates that four of the measurements have significant interaction between sex and ancrestry. In other words, fifteen of the nineteen measurements do not display significant variation in sexual dimorphism; however, four measurements do (i.e. cranial length, cranial height, cranial base length, and gonial angle). These findings highlight importance of considering human complexity when studying demography or developing a biological profile. This study provides a platform for further exploration of the diverse biological and environmental factors contributing to this phenomenon.

Robert C. West Graduate Student Field Research Fund, Dept. of Geography and Anthropolgy, Louisiana State University

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