The 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2019)

A test of Wescott’s second cervical vertebra sex estimation method on a middle-aged to senescent sample


Anthropology, Binghamton University, State University of New York

March 29, 2019 , CC Ballroom BC Add to calendar

Forensic anthropologists and bioarchaeologists are often faced with fragmentary remains or incomplete skeletons. Such cases require the creation of sex assessment methods on a variety of bones. The Wescott (2000) method involves eight measurements of the second cervical vertebra, used to discriminate between sexes. Wescott created 5 discriminant function equations to classify a sample of 153 modern individuals by sex; correct classification occurred 76.9% of the time. In a validation study by Bethard and Seet (2013), Wescott’s discriminant functions were found to correctly discriminate sex over 80% of the time. Here, we attempt to further validate this method on a sample of primarily older adults (n=45; 24 females, 21 males; ages-at-death 54-90). These individuals were donated to an anatomical supply company and used by our laboratory primarily for a separate project. Preliminary data analysis demonstrated that Wescott’s equations 1, 2, 4, and 5 were able to correctly assess the sex of approximately 60% of the sample. Overall, function 3 classified individuals correctly 68% of the time.When examining females, functions 1 and 2 correctly classify 50% of the sample, while function 4 correctly assessed 84% of the sample. Discriminant function 4 correctly classifies males 30% of the time while functions 1, 2, 3, and 5 classify correctly 89% of the time. Based on analysis, we recommend that practitioners use function 3 for highest accuracy due to its performance when sex is unknown. Functions 1, 2, 4, and 5 have a lower success rate and should be further tested.

An award from the National Institute of Justice (2016-DN-BX-0155) supported a larger project involving the procurement of the samples used here.