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Facial Soft Tissue Depths in Craniofacial Identification (Part II): An Analytical Review of the Published Sub-Adult Data

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Prior research indicates that while statistically significant differences exist between subcategories of the adult soft tissue depth data, magnitudes of difference are small and possess little practical meaning when measurement errors and variations between measurement methods are considered. These findings raise questions as to what variables may or may not hold meaning for the sub-adult data. Of primary interest is the effect of age, as these differences have the potential to surpass the magnitude of measurement error. Data from the five studies in the literature on sub-adults which describe values for single integer age groups were pooled and differences across the ages examined. From 1 to 18 years, most soft tissue depth measurements increased by less than 3 mm. These results suggest that dividing the data for children into more than two age groups is unlikely to hold many advantages. Data were therefore split into two groups with the division point corresponding to the mid-point of the observed trends and main data density (0–11 and 12–18 years; division point = 11.5 years). Published sub-adult data for seven further studies which reported broader age groups were pooled with the data above to produce the final tallied soft tissue depth tables. These tables hold the advantages of increased sample sizes (pogonion has greater than 1770 individuals for either age group) and increased levels of certainty (as random and opposing systematic errors specific to each independent study should average out when the data are combined).

Keywords: facial approximation; facial reconstruction; facial reproduction; forensic science; soft tissue thickness; superimposition

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Anatomy and Developmental Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld. 4072, Australia. 2: Forensic Science South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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