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An investigation of sex determination from the subadult pelvis: A morphometric analysis

Blake, Kathleen Ann Satterlee (2011) An investigation of sex determination from the subadult pelvis: A morphometric analysis. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The pelvis, the most sexually dimorphic area of the adult human skeleton, is essential to determine biological sex. Although sex differences have been noted in subadult pelvic bones since the late 1800s, no reliable method has been developed to determine biological sex, and therefore, subadult sex demographics must be omitted from forensic and archaeological investigations. This study examined three North American skeletal samples of documented age and sex, the Forensic Fetal Osteological Collection (n=113), the subadult component of the Hamann-Todd Collection (n=37), and the Trotter Fetal Bone Collection (n=37), to test the hypothesis that subadult pelvic traits, both metric and non-metric, are sufficiently sexually dimorphic in one or more sample or age category. Method accuracy and reliability were also evaluated. Traits included those previously studied: the breadth and angle of the sciatic notch, iliac crest curvature, arch criterion, auricular surface elevation, subpubic angle, pubic length, and ischial length. Two additional feature analyses and three indices were developed for this study: the anterior and posterior sciatic notch lengths, pubic body width, pubic index, anterior/posterior sciatic notch, and sciatic notch width/iliac length index. Both left and right sides were considered using photographic and direct measurement techniques. For t-tests and correlations, at least one trait per sample reached statistically significant levels for sexual dimorphism. Reliable testing methods were not developed because these features were inconsistently sexually dimorphic for each sample; furthermore, male and female measurement ranges overlapped considerably, trait morphology proved variable, and individuals were incorrectly assigned to sex when using methods outlined in previous studies. Both logistic regression and discriminant function analysis provided low predictive scores, the highest at 0.68, which were insufficient to predict sex consistently or meet the Daubert threshold. Two non-metric traits, sciatic notch shape and auricular surface elevation, also proved to be inconsistent across the three samples. Consequently, these traits were unreliable for sex determination. Several features, including the sciatic notch width, sciatic notch shape, and pubic body width, demonstrated differences among older subadults and should be investigated using larger, broadly-aged samples that include adults.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Blake, Kathleen Ann Satterleekab117@pitt.eduKAB117
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJudd, Margaretmjudd@pitt.eduMJUDD
Committee MemberMooney, Markmpm4@pitt.eduMPM4
Committee MemberSiegel, Michaelsiegel@pitt.eduSIEGEL
Committee MemberScaglion, Richardscaglion@pitt.eduSCAGLION
Date: 16 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 26 April 2011
Approval Date: 16 September 2011
Submission Date: 16 May 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ilium; pubis; sex determination; Subadult; ischium; pelvis
Other ID:, etd-05162011-074100
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:45
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:43


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