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Accuracy Rates of Ancestry Estimation by Forensic Anthropologists Using Identified Forensic Cases

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A common task in forensic anthropology involves the estimation of the ancestry of a decedent by comparing their skeletal morphology and measurements to skeletons of individuals from known geographic groups. However, the accuracy rates of ancestry estimation methods in actual forensic casework have rarely been studied. This article uses 99 forensic cases with identified skeletal remains to develop accuracy rates for ancestry estimations conducted by forensic anthropologists. The overall rate of correct ancestry estimation from these cases is 90.9%, which is comparable to most research‐derived rates and those reported by individual practitioners. Statistical tests showed no significant difference in accuracy rates depending on examiner education level or on the estimated or identified ancestry. More recent cases showed a significantly higher accuracy rate. The incorporation of metric analyses into the ancestry estimate in these cases led to a higher accuracy rate.
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Keywords: ancestry estimation; biological profile; forensic anthropology; forensic science; osteometrics; skeletal morphology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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