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Palatine Sutures as Age Indicator: A Controlled Study in the Elderly

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Vault sutures have proven their low reliability for estimating age at death in individual forensic science cases. We broke down the palatine sutures of 134 skulls (with known sex and age at time of death) into 15 subparts and 5 stages of fusion to obtain a mean coefficient of obliteration (Cp) which was then linked to five age classes. We completed this study with multiple regression equations of total palatine suture scores. We compared our results with those obtained using the Mann method on the one hand and classically segmented and scored ectocranial suture age determination methods on the other. Palatine sutures generally do not estimate age at death any better than cranial vault sutures. Despite the partly subjective aspect of suture study, palatine suture observation contributes additional information to age-range estimation, especially in old and very old subjects where other methods lose their effectiveness.

Keywords: age at death; cranial sutures; forensic anthropology; forensic science; palatine sutures

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Anatomy, Biomechanics and Organogenesis, Faculty of Medicine, Université Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B.), Belgium. 2: Biostatistics, Department of Kinesiology, H.E. Charleroi-Europe, Belgium. 3: Department of Paleontology, Laboratory of Anthropology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium. 4: Forensic Stomatology, Belgium.

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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