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Homo. 2004;54(3):197-206.

Geometric morphometric analysis of the greater sciatic notch in South Africans.

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Dept. of Anatomy, University of Pretoria.


The width of the greater sciatic notch of the pelvis is a characteristic commonly used to determine sex in unknown individuals. Recent research on South African skeletal material indicated that this feature may not be so reliable, especially in South African white males. In this study the greater sciatic notches of 115 known skeletons of South African origin were analysed using geometric morphometrics. Geometric morphometrics is a relatively new method that helps to quantify shape. Using this method, it was observed that South African black males have the typical narrow shape, while both the black and white females have typical wide notches. The white males, however, showed a very wide variation and their shapes scattered across the range. The shape of the greater sciatic notch is therefore not reliable to use in sex determination in this population group. Geometric morphometric analysis proved to be a valuable and reliable method to verify morphological characteristics observed with more traditional methods.

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