Forensic Anthropology

1. Sex determination of Australian Aboriginal crania using anatomical traits and statistical methods: a screen cast

Determining the sex of adult human skeletons can be important in forensic and palaeo-demographic contexts, and to make certain that correct sex-based standards are applied when using a variety of osteological procedures. However, while anatomical differences between male and female pelves are fairly constant between different human populations, other parts of the skeleton are more problematic. This is particularly true for the human cranium where it is possible to determine sex with an accuracy of >90%, but only if the correct population standards are applied.

Since the 1960's a variety of methods have been developed to determine the sex of isolated Australian Aboriginal crania. Unfortunately, few of the published methods have been develped from, or tested with, known sex skeletal series. Additional problems, relate to preservation and the inability to apply some methods to fragmentary crania, and the limited success rate of methods developed from non-Aboriginal populations. This screen cast illustrates sex determination methods that have been demonstrated to have a reasonable probability of correct classification (>90%) with crania independently sexed through their associated pelvis. Neither the morphological or multivariate methods discussed here are intended for use in non-Aboriginal populations, or with the skeletal remains of people with complex genetic background. The screen cast runs for approximately 22 minutes.

A discussion by Peter Maxwell, of methods that are appropriate to sex skeletons found in the North American context, can be found on youtube