Sex determination of adolescent skeletons using the distal humerus



Accurate determination of the sex of immature skeletal remains is difficult in the absence of DNA, due to the fact that most sexually dimorphic features of the human skeleton develop as secondary sex characteristics during adolescence. Methods of assessment of adult skeletons cannot reliably be applied to adolescent skeletons because of the transitional nature of the skeleton at puberty and the variability of the adolescent growth spurt. The purpose of this work was to evaluate the accuracy of Rogers's method of morphological sex determination using the distal humerus (Rogers: J Forensic Sci 44 (1999) 55–59) to assess the sex of adolescent skeletons. The sample consists of 7 documented adolescent skeletons from the Christ Church Spitalfields collection at the British Museum of Natural History and 35 from the Luis Lopes skeletal collection housed in the National History Museum (Museu Bocage) of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Ages range from 11 to 20 years. The technique achieved an accuracy of 81% on the combined sample of 42. This method can be applied to adolescent skeletons once the trochlea begins fusing to the humeral diaphysis, which occurred by age 11 years in the test samples. Am J Phys Anthropol 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.