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A Bayesian Approach to Age Estimation in Modern Americans from the Clavicle

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Abstract: 

Clavicles from 1289 individuals from cohorts spanning the 20th century were scored with two scoring systems. Transition analysis and Bayesian statistics were used to obtain robust age ranges that are less sensitive to the effects of age mimicry and developmental outliers than age ranges obtained using a percentile approach. Observer error tests showed that a simple three-phase scoring system proved the least subjective, while retaining accuracy levels. Additionally, significant sexual dimorphism was detected in the onset of fusion, with women commencing fusion at least a year earlier than men (women transition to fusion at approximately 15 years of age and men at 16 years). Significant secular trends were apparent in the onset of skeletal maturation, with modern Americans transitioning to fusion approximately 4 years earlier than early 20th century Americans and 3.5 years earlier than Korean War era Americans. These results underscore the importance of using modern standards to estimate age in modern individuals.
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Keywords: Bayesian statistics; age estimation; clavicle; forensic anthropology; forensic science; probit regression; secular change; skeletal maturation; transition analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, 250 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Publication date: 2010-05-01

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