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Keywords:

  • crania;
  • sex estimation;
  • skull base;
  • forensic anthropology;
  • St. Bride's crypt

Abstract

Fragmentary human remains compromised by different types of inhumation, or physical insults such as explosions, fires, and mutilations may frustrate the use of traditional morphognostic sex determination methods. The basicranium is protected by a large soft tissue mass comprising muscle, tendon, and ligaments. As such, the occipital region may prove useful for sex identification in cases of significantly fragmented remains. The aims of this paper are to (1) evaluate sexual dimorphism in British cranial bases by manually recorded unilateral and bilateral condylar length and width as well as intercondylar measurements and (2) develop discriminant functions for sex determination for this cranial sample. The crania selected for this study are part of the 18th–19th century documented skeletal collection of St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London. Adult human skulls (n = 146; ♂75/♀71) were measured to derive statistical functions. Results indicated that expression of sexual dimorphism in the occipital condylar region within the St. Bride's population is demonstrable but low. Crossvalidated classification accuracy ranged between 69.2 and 76.7%, and sex bias ranged from 0.3 to 9.7%. Therefore, the use of discriminant functions derived from occipital condyles, especially in British skeletal populations, should only be considered in cases of fragmented cranial bases when no other morphognostic or morphometric method can be utilized for sex determination. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.