The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Estimating body mass from post-cranial remains: an evaluation using a large known-mass sample of modern humans


1Human Evolutionary Studies Program and Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, 2Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, 4Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, 5Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck, 6Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2 Add to calendar

Body mass estimates from skeletal material continue to be an important part of palaeoanthropological and bioarchaeological research and are being increasingly employed in forensic anthropology. A number of equations have been developed for use with post-cranial material, and although these equations are widely used, they have rarely been tested on individuals of known mass. Additionally, assumptions associated with the application of these equations have not been systematically evaluated. Accordingly, this study employed three-dimensional CT scans from a large sample of documented modern humans to test the accuracy of six sets of post-cranial equations. The results were then used to evaluate five hypotheses relating to the relative performance of these equations. Many of the existing post-cranial body mass equations met the criteria for acceptance as reliable estimators in the male and pooled-sex samples. However, females were not estimated as accurately. In addition, not all the equations performed consistently, or as expected, in each group. Overall, our results suggest that caution is still warranted when estimating body mass from post-cranial skeletal material.

Funding provided by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Research Chairs Program, Canada Foundation for Innovation, British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and Simon Fraser University Human Evolutionary Studies Program.