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

The Relationship Between Soft Tissue Anatomy and Skeletal Sexual Dimorphism in the Cranium and Clavicle


1Anatomy, University of Otago, 2Anatomy, Khon Kaen University

April 18, 2020 , Diamond 8-9 Add to calendar

The aim of this research is to establish accurate metric sex estimation methods from the cranium and clavicle, through the dissection and analysis of skeletal and soft tissue sexual dimorphism. Accurate methods are important to help with identification in modern forensic cases and to understand the structure of past populations and metric methods can limit the subjectivity and expertise required with morphological methods.

This presentation focuses on the dissection phase of this project and the relationship of soft tissue to three sexually dimorphic skeletal landmarks: the nuchal crest and mastoid processes of the cranium, and the rhomboid fossa of the clavicle.

A total of 20 bequeathed cadavers from modern European New Zealand and Thai populations (ethical approval granted) were dissected for this project. Muscles were dissected to calculate physiological cross sectional area, or overall size. These data were compared with the metric and morphological size of the relevant skeletal landmarks to identify the sexually dimorphic relationship between the two.

Preliminary results indicate that males show generally larger muscles than females, with some exceptions. Following standard methodology, the individuals are consistent with the male and female skeletal morphology. Even some muscularly robust females show standard female characteristics, skeletally. The implications for this muscular data can provide further insight into human sexual dimorphism in these skeletal landmarks, in addition to the sexual dimorphism of the neck muscles. Future development of a population-specific metric sex estimation method from these data will contribute to improving accuracy of sex estimation from the cranium and clavicle.