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Homo. 2008;59(3):209-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jchb.2007.01.001. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

An assessment of sex using the skull of black South Africans by discriminant function analysis.

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  • 1School of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown 2193, Johannesburg, South Africa.


The derivation of discriminant function equations for skeletal elements of South African populations continues to be an area of interest to both forensic anthropologists and skeletal biologists alike. The skull of black South Africans has previously been subjected to discriminant function analysis, using four measurements and two indices; however, no equations were derived to address the issue of sex determination. Recently Franklin, Freedman and Milne [2005. Sexual dimorphism and discriminant function sexing in indigenous South African crania. HOMO J. Comp. Hum. Biol. 55, 213-228] used the crania of black South Africans, in a three-dimensional approach, with eight linear measurements to investigate sex determination. This study, although valuable, requires the use of highly technical and expensive morphometric equipment that renders it less feasible in South Africa. In response to this, our study uses traditional anthropometric measurements and equipment to address the question of sex determination from the crania and mandible of blacks. One hundred and twenty non-pathological skulls were randomly selected from the Raymond Dart Collection of Human Skeletons, equally distributed by sex and belonging to individuals whose age at death ranges between 25 and 70 years. Fourteen cranial and six mandibular measurements were subjected to discriminant function analyses and discriminant function equations were derived for sex determination. Average accuracies ranged between 80% and 85% and were on par with that obtained in previous studies. Our study shows that traditional methods provide average accuracies that are comparable to those obtained using more complex techniques.

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