Masculinization of postmenopausal female crania: fact or fiction?
Zindel, Greta Marie
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The use of the Daubert Standard in court proceedings has highlighted the need to substantiate scientific findings or claims beyond simply accepting the word of a respected expert. The concept of postmenopausal masculinization of the skull in female crania falls into this category. Dr. Walker references this concept in several articles but there is no research to support this hypothesis. This project examines the theory of postmenopausal masculinization of female crania from several perspectives, using the visual sex estimation method set forth in Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains edited by Jane E. Buikstra and Douglas H Ubelaker, photographic seriation of these sex estimation traits, and metric measurements in conjunction with Fordisc 3.1. A sample of 395 crania from the Hamann-Todd Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History was analyzed using all three of these methods to determine if there was a pattern of masculinization in the postmenopausal female sample. The average age for the onset of menopause in the United States is 50, thus there should be an increase in "masculinization" observable through more rugged sex estimation traits, a higher number of females 50 or over being found below the midpoint in photographic seriations of sex estimation traits, and an increase in Fordisc 3.1 sex identification misclassifications in females in this age category. The results of the analyses revealed that there were statistically significant differences between ancestry groups, the sexes, and in some cases, age-groups. The results of this research indicate that though there are some differences between comparison groups, there does not appear to be a cohesive pattern of masculinization in female crania at or after the average age of onset of menopause. Human variation is endless, and even in areas of the skeleton for which it has been established that there is a significant degree of sexual dimorphism, there will be individuals who do not fit neatly into a binary conception of sexual divergence. Though these individuals may be misidentified as the opposite sex using one or all of the methods utilized in this project, this falls short of being classified as a part of the menopausal process in females.