Metamorphosis at the sternal rib end: A new method to estimate age at death in white males



While the pubic symphysis and intracortical morphometry have provided successful results in estimating age at death, other methods and sites in the skeleton are needed to improve the accuracy of age estimation. This research is an attempt to develop a new age-determination technique by using the sternal extremity of the rib. The right fourth rib was collected at autopsy from 93 white males. The sternal extremity of each rib was analyzed in relation to the pit depth (component I), pit shape (component II), and rim and wall configurations (component III), each of which was divided into six stages. Results indicated that the age at death can be estimated from a rib within about 2 years in the second decade to about 7 years in the fifth and sixth decades of life. Pit shape and rim and wall configurations yielded better results than absolute pit depth alone. While this method has a potentially important contribution to skeletal anthropology, factors such as sex differences and biomechanical variation between individuals may affect the determination of age from the rib.