Analyzing ancestry: craniometric variation in two contemporary Caribbean populations
Herrera, Michelle Denise
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Ancestry estimation of skeletonized remains by forensic anthropologists is conducted through comparative means, and a lack of population-specific data results in possible misclassifications. This is especially germane to individuals of Latin American ancestry. Generally, each country in Latin America can trace their ancestry to three parental groups: Indigenous, European, and African. However, grouping all Latin American individuals together under the broad “Hispanic” category ignores the specific genetic contributions from each parental group, which is variable and dependent on the population histories and sociocultural dynamics of each country. This study analyzes the craniometric ancestry of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti) using the island’s history, along with 190 cranial Computed Tomography (CT) scans (f = 103; m = 87), to determine similarities and differences between the two groups. A total of 12 linear discriminant function analyses produced cross-validated classification accuracies of 75.0 – 83.3% for females, 71.8 – 87.5% for males, and 72.0 – 82.2% for pooled sexes. This study demonstrates that, despite sharing a small island, Dominican and Haitian individuals can be differentiated with a fair amount of statistical certainty, which is possible due to complex socio-cultural, -political, and –demographic factors that have maintained genetic heterogeneity. Moreover, the discriminant functions provided here can be used by the international forensic science community to identify individuals living on Hispaniola.