Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hips don't lie: Researchers find more accurate technique to determine sex of skeletal remains

Date:
July 6, 2010
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Researchers are offering a new means of determining the sex of skeletal human remains -- an advance that may have significant impacts in the wake of disasters, the studying of ancient remains and the criminal justice system.

The new technique for determining the sex of skeletal human remains is significantly more accurate than traditional visual inspections.
Credit: Image courtesy of North Carolina State University

Research from North Carolina State University offers a new means of determining the sex of skeletal human remains -- an advance that may have significant impacts in the wake of disasters, the studying of ancient remains and the criminal justice system.

Historically, forensic scientists have been able to determine the sex of skeletal remains by visually evaluating the size and shape of the pelvis, or os coxa. "This technique is accurate, but is not without its limitations," says Dr. Ann Ross, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

"For example," Ross says, "when faced with fragmentary remains of the os coxa, it can be difficult to determine the deceased person's sex based solely on visual inspection. This can be a significant challenge when evaluating remains from disasters -- such as plane crashes -- or degraded remains in mass burials -- whether the burials date from prehistory or 20th century political violence."

But Ross and her colleague Dr. Joan Bytheway have now used three-dimensional imaging technology to effectively quantify the specific characteristics of the os coxa that differentiate males from females. Bytheway is an assistant professor of forensic science at Sam Houston State University.

The researchers found more than 20 anatomical "landmarks" on the os coxa that can be used to determine a body's sex. Finding so many landmarks is important, Ross says, because it means that the sex of a body can be ascertained even if only a small fragment of the pelvis can be found. In other words, even if only 15 percent of the pelvis is recovered, it is likely that at least a few of the landmarks can be found on that fragment.

Here's how it would work: a forensic scientist would use a digitizer to create a 3-D map of the pelvic fragment and measure the relevant anatomical landmarks. The scientist could then determine the sex of the remains by comparing those measurements to the measurements listed in the paper by Bytheway and Ross.

"This technique also has the benefit of being significantly more accurate than traditional visual inspections," Ross says. While determining sex based on visual inspections of os coxa have an accuracy rate of approximately 90 percent, the new technique from Ross and Bytheway has an accuracy rate of 98 percent or better. The researchers found, for example, that several anatomical landmarks commonly used in visual inspection to estimate sex are actually very poor indicators of sex.

The new technique could also have significant benefits in the courtroom. Obviously the improved accuracy is important, but so is the fact that the method relies on quantifiable metric data -- not an opinion. This is an important distinction under the federal rules of evidence that govern what evidence can be submitted in criminal court.

The researchers are planning to incorporate their findings into the National Institute of Justice's 3D-ID program. The 3D-ID program consists of software that allows forensic scientists to plug in data on skeletal remains and determine the sex and ancestral origin of those remains.

The research, "A Geometric Morphometric Approach to Sex Determination of the Human Adult Os Coxa," is published in the July issue of Journal of Forensic Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joan A. Bytheway, Ann H. Ross. A Geometric Morphometric Approach to Sex Determination of the Human Adult Os Coxa. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01374.x

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Hips don't lie: Researchers find more accurate technique to determine sex of skeletal remains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100706112601.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2010, July 6). Hips don't lie: Researchers find more accurate technique to determine sex of skeletal remains. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100706112601.htm
North Carolina State University. "Hips don't lie: Researchers find more accurate technique to determine sex of skeletal remains." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100706112601.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What Self-Made Women Need to Know Financially Before Getting Hitched

What Self-Made Women Need to Know Financially Before Getting Hitched

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) Halle Berry was recently ordered to pay her ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry $16,000 a month in child support by a California judge for their daughter Nahla. As women make strides in the workforce, they are increasingly left holding the bag when relationships end regardless of marital status. 'What Monied Women Need to Know Before Getting Married or Cohabitating' discusses information such as debt incurred during the marriage is both spouse's responsibility at divorce, whether after ten years of marriage spouses are entitled to half of everything and why property acquired within the marriage is fair game without a pre-nup. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Reuters - US Online Video (July 18, 2014) The FCC received more than 800,000 comments on whether and how internet speeds should be regulated, even crashing its system. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfire Tears Through Washington

Raw: Wildfire Tears Through Washington

AP (July 18, 2014) A large wildfire continued to gain steam through north-central Washington Friday. The blaze is already responsible for the destruction of at least 100 homes. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins