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Variation in the Measurement of Cranial Volume and Surface Area Using 3D Laser Scanning Technology

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Three-dimensional (3D) laser scanner models of human crania can be used for forensic facial reconstruction, and for obtaining craniometric data useful for estimating age, sex, and population affinity of unidentified human remains. However, the use of computer-generated measurements in a casework setting requires the measurement precision to be known. Here, we assess the repeatability and precision of cranial volume and surface area measurements using 3D laser scanner models created by different operators using different protocols for collecting and processing data. We report intraobserver measurement errors of 0.2% and interobserver errors of 2% of the total area and volume values, suggesting that observer-related errors do not pose major obstacles for sharing, combining, or comparing such measurements. Nevertheless, as no standardized procedure exists for area or volume measurements from 3D models, it is imperative to report the scanning and postscanning protocols employed when such measurements are conducted in a forensic setting.

Keywords: 3D laser scanning; cranial morphology; digital imaging; digital morphometrics; forensic anthropology; forensic science

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3210 2: Departments of Chemistry and Criminology, California State University, Fresno, 2576 E San Ramon Avenue, M/S ST 104, Fresno, CA 93740.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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