Evaluation of Discriminant Functions for Sexing Skulls from Visually Assessed Traits Applied in the Rainer Osteological Collection

The sexing of human skeletal remains based on visual scoring of descriptive traits on the skull is useful for both forensic and bioarchaeological studies, given that many such features preserve better in the field and can be assessed quickly.The goal of our work is to evaluate the accuracy of this method on an age-balanced, known sex, random sample of 360 modern adult crania in the Rainer Osteological Collection. Consistent with Walker (2008), we scored glabella area (G), the mastoid process (Ma), the mental eminence (M), the orbital edge (O) and the nuchal crest (N), on a five-point scale. We generated sex discriminant functions (logistic), selected the most accurate of them, and subsequently applied them on archaeological samples from Romania. Each skull feature showed significant score differences by sex. Eight out of 31 discriminant functions passed criteria of high accuracy (~90%), sex bias (± 2%), and ease of use (direct calculation of sex). The best predictions were obtained for the 30-60 age group. Further testing these functions on six archaeological samples showed high percentages of agreement with the sex assessed on the coxal bone. The study also indicated that, although easy to learn by novices, the method of visually scoring the skull traits depends on prior experience with human osteology. The accuracy of the method may be influenced by geographical and historical differences which are bound to exist between populations.

Publication:HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, no. 65, p.464-475
Published: 2014
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