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

Postcraniometric databank for the Robert J. Terry Collection: On-line access, data sharing, and discussion for measurement standardization


Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution

March 27, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

The Robert J Terry Anatomical Skeletal Collection is comprised of 1728 individuals with known demographic information. To provide digital access for some of this collection, a postcranial osteometric database containing 400 individuals has been assembled using standard measurements. This database is accessible online to researchers through the Smithsonian Anthropology website. Intra- and inter-observer error was checked for consistency and accuracy of the values.

During the assessment of measurements from past researchers, we found discrepancies in values, produced mostly from how the measurement was taken. Positioning of bone, interpretation of osteometric definition, measurement technique, and research goal of the researcher all affected the resulting measurement.

It is apparent that there needs to be further discussion on osteometric standardization to decrease error in the various methods, especially in measurements with the same name but different definitions. Certain measurements need to be changed or eliminated -such as: Ulna AP and ML diameter (resulted in an intraobserver error correlation of 0.41 and 0.65, respectively). Measurements should be designed to capture the morphological characteristics of an element and/or be applicable on a population level to highlight the variation of the element. To be specifically presented are what postcraniometrics are the most inaccurate or variable, including - subtrochanteric diameter, tibia nutrient foramen position, and AP or ML diameters of the clavicle, tibia, and the ulna.

With the ongoing data collecting for the Terry Collection databank, clarified standardization for osteometric data can be shared with confidence in accuracy of comparable measurements with other databanks.