Master of Arts degree with a major in Applied Anthropology
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While methods for estimating the sex of adult skeletons are relatively accurate, these methods are often inconclusive when applied to subadults (non-adults), especially when many secondary sexual characteristics have not fully developed. Furthermore, existing methods for subadults are often tested on samples with relatively homogenous ancestries, calling into question their reliability in more diverse populations. This thesis reviewed techniques for estimating sex in subadult skeletal remains, and the most promising methods were retested on individuals of known sex between ages 3 and 17 years (n=39, 14 males, 25 females) from the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection. Data collection included measurements of the dentition, skull, long bones (i.e., humerus, radius, ulna, femur, tibia, and fibula), ilium, talus, and calcaneus. Non-metric assessment included observations of the eye orbits, mandible, and ilium. For metric methods, the highest level of accuracy was achieved by multivariate analysis of craniometrics (p=0.001, 100.0%), a multivariate analysis of the medial, distal, and mid-shaft breadths (p =0.0004, r =0.94, 95.5% accuracy), a univariate analysis of the distal breadths of the long bones (p =0.0002, r =0.83, 95.8%), and the mesiodistal dimension of the deciduous left lateral incisor (p =0.02, r =0.81, 73.3%). For non-metric methods, the highest level of statistical accuracy was from the protrusion of the chin (64.9%). Factors contributing to inconclusive results include small sample sizes and overlapping data points between the sexes. Therefore, recommendations are to re-evaluate whether binary dichotomization of sex in the subadult skeleton actually reflects the biological reality, to refine and redefine methods of assessment (e.g., reflecting a scale in variation), and continue testing the methods on larger more diverse sample populations with various methods of analysis.
Zabnicka, Dorota, "Assessing methods for estimating biological sex from subadult skeletal elements" (2020). HSU theses and projects. 452.