The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Sex diagnosis of the human dentition after heat exposure: the potential of cementum-enamel junction and root dimensions


1Depart. Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Portugal, 2Depart.Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Portugal, 3Depart.Life Sciences and CIAS, University of Coimbra, Portugal, 4Depart.Life Sciences, CIAS, LARC/CIBIO/InBIO, University of Coimbra, Portugal

April 14, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Teeth are often the only elements preserved from human skeletons after cremations, intentional or accidental burning. Thus, the potential of odontometry for sample-specific sex diagnosis was investigated. A sample of permanent lower second pre-molars, donated by 40 patients (20 males and 20 women) extracted in dental medicine clinics were experimentally burned at 900°Cto assess heat-induced changes in seven dimensions of the cementum-enamel junction and the root. Four of them, cementum-enamel junction perimeter, mesiodistal, buccolingual and perimeter at the mid-root level, were investigated for the first time. Also, five measurements combining some of the isolated standard measurements were investigated. Additionally, 10 permanent upper central incisors and 10 permanent lower first molars were experimentally burned at 400°C and 700°Cto document heat-induced dimensional changes and serve as comparison with the 900°Csample. Results showed that most of the standard measurements, although presenting significant sex differences, were not reliable enough to allow for correct sex classifications above 80% both before and after the burning. Nonetheless, the perimeter at the cementum-enamel junction and the combined measurement of the mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters, at the same level, were quite promising before and after burning, with correct sex classifications above 80%. At 900°C, in average, females were slightly more affected by shrinkage in the perimeter at the cementum-enamel junction than males thus artificially increasing sexual dimorphism after burning. Although additional research is needed, these measures apparently have good potential for sample-specific sex diagnosis in individuals recovered from archaeological and forensic contexts.

Postdoctoral research grants (SFRH/BPD/84268/2012) and UID/ANT/00283/2013 from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.