The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Postcranial sex estimation for unidentified migrants along the U.S. Southern Border


1Anthropology, Texas State University, 2School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, 3Department of Anthropology and Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Sex estimation is a critical part of the biological profile that greatly assists in the identification of unknown individuals. With increasing numbers of Central Americans and Mexicans crossing the U.S. southern border, the need for sex estimation criteria that encompasses the biological variation of unidentified migrants remains critical. The current research addresses whether univariate analyses of postcranial measurements can be used to develop accurate sex classification criteria for unidentified migrants from varied regions in Latin America. Utilizing a combined sample of 314 (201 males, 113 females) known-sex Central American and Mexican individuals from the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala, Operation Identification, the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Yucután, analysis of variance was conducted on 42 postcranial measurements to generate sectioning points to serve as sex estimation criteria. In order to test classification accuracies, 16 measurements with significant F-values were applied to a test sample of 30 known-sex individuals not included in the original analyses. Classification accuracies for the test sample were above 80.00% for eight of the 16 measurements, with humerus epicondylar breadth performing best at 96.00%. Classification accuracies were overall better for males than females. Univariate classification criteria are crucial for forensic cases where trauma and taphonmy may render elements incomplete, which is often the case for unidentified migrants. The applicability of broader-encompassing sex estimation criteria for unidentified migrants will prove relevant to ever-changing U.S. demographics. Future studies seek to assess multivariate postcranial sex estimation criteria.

Slides/Poster (pdf)