Metric, nonmetric, and geometric morphometric methods of sex estimation using the distal humerus
Berthelot, Carolyn M.
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Sex estimation is one of the most important, and arguably the first, parts of the biological profile that is estimated for purposes of human identification. This study will examine the utility of the distal humerus in sex estimation. The goal of this research is to corroborate the usefulness of the distal humerus in sex estimation and the usefulness of geometric morphometrics in sex estimation, as well as validate metric and visual methods for sex estimation using the distal humerus. Multiple methods of sex estimation are necessary because complete skeletons are rarely found, and often only fragments are discovered. Three methods of sex estimation utilizing the distal humerus are used in this study: epicondylar breadth (n=448), nonmetric traits per Rogers (1999) and Vance et al. (2011 (n=444)), and geometric morphometrics via a Microscribe digitizer and MorphoJ software (n=227). The sample was taken from the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection and was primarily composed of White Americans. The male to female ratio was approximately equal. The results of the metric aspect of the study showed a classification accuracy of 88.84% with low intra-observer and inter-observer error rates. The results of the nonmetric aspect of the study showed a classification accuracy of 77% when all traits were combined with low intra-observer and high inter-observer error rates. The results of the geometric morphometric aspect of the study showed a classification accuracy of 55% for all landmarks, 57% for anterior landmarks, and 63% for posterior landmarks. The results show that not only is the epicondylar breadth a reliable and effective method of sex estimation, it is easily repeatable by other observers. The nonmetric method is useful when epicondylar breadth cannot be measured or when an observer is familiar with the method. The geometric morphometric method is not as strong as the other two methods, but with further research and modifications may become a feasible option for sex estimation using the distal humerus. The author concludes that the distal humerus is sexually dimorphic and can be used to estimate sex accurately.