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Sex Determination from Hand and Foot Bone Lengths

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Numerous studies have addressed sex estimation from the hands and feet with varying results. These studies have utilized multiple measurements to determine sex from the hands and feet, including measures of robusticity (e.g., base width and midshaft diameter). However, robusticity measurements are affected by activity, which can disguise underlying patterns of sexual dimorphism. The purpose of this study is to investigate the utility of length measurements of the hands and feet to estimate sex. The sample consists of white females (n=123) and males (n=136) from the Terry Collection. Discriminant function analysis was used to classify individuals by sex. The left hand outperformed both the right hand and foot producing correct classification rates exceeding 80%. Surprisingly, the phalanges were better sex discriminators than either the metacarpals or metatarsals. This study suggests that length measures are more appropriate than robusticity measures for sex estimation.

Keywords: forensic anthropology; forensic science; metacarpals; metatarsals; phalanges; sex estimation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8107.

Publication date: March 1, 2007


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