Geometric morphometric assessment of sexually dimorphic characteristics of the distal humerus

10 Apr 2014

A number of recent studies investigated the use of morphological characteristics of the distal humerus to estimate the sex of unknown individuals. Using visual assessment, accuracies ranging from 74% to more than 90% were reported. The aim of this study was to assess these traits with geometric morphometrics, in order to determine if they corroborate the findings described with pure visual assessment. A total sample of 155 female and 175 male humeri of South Africans were used. All humeri were photographed in standardized positions from a posterior and inferior view, and homologous landmarks assigned. Olecranon fossa shape, angle of the medial epicondyle and trochlear symmetry were assessed. Males and females could be separated with accuracies ranging from 78% to 91%. The results of this study confirm the existence of these traits and their usability in assessment of sex from skeletal remains, and the observed anatomical characteristics largely agree with what have been described by visual assessment.