Standard Article

Anthropology: Skeleton; Estimating Juvenile Age

  1. Craig A. Cunningham

Published Online: 14 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9780470061589.fsa1096

Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science

Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science

How to Cite

Cunningham, C. A. 2014. Anthropology: Skeleton; Estimating Juvenile Age. Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science. 1–11.

Author Information

  1. University of Dundee, Dundee, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2014


Assessment of age from the juvenile skeleton in deceased and living individuals is a task that is frequently requested of the forensic anthropologist when an individual's biological identity is unknown. It is the only biological parameter of identity that can be assessed with any degree of accuracy from the subadult skeleton and is generally estimated by considering the well-defined milestones that the skeleton undergoes throughout the juvenile developmental period. These developmental milestones have resulted in the formulation of literature standards that are available to aid with the assessment of age. The common methods of age estimation range from the assessment of the appearance, changing morphology and ultimate fusion of ossification centers (in dry bone assemblages and imaging studies), to the assessment of bone metrics and comparison with published standards. Each of these methods enables the formulation of an age estimate that is more accurate than can be achieved in an adult, but has limitations. This article provides a background to juvenile age assessment by discussing the growth and development of the skeleton, the common terminology associated with age estimation, and the general principles and key methods used in the establishment of skeletal age.


  • Juvenile;
  • age estimation;
  • skeletal maturity;
  • sub-adult;
  • skeleton;
  • growth;
  • development