Age estimation from stages of union of the vertebral epiphyses of the ribs

Authors

  • Luis Ríos,

    Corresponding author
    1. Comisión Docente de Antropología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28049
    • Comisión Docente de Antropología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28049
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  • Hugo F.V. Cardoso

    1. Departamento de Zoologia e Antropologia (Museu Bocage), Museu Nacional de História Natural and Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Lisboa, Portugal
    2. Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
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Abstract

This study attempts to fill a persistent gap in the literature by documenting the timing of epiphyseal union at the vertebral end of the ribs in a sample of modern Portuguese skeletons. The skeletal remains of 53 females and 45 males, between the ages of 11 and 30, were taken from the Lisbon documented skeletal collection. Individuals in the sample have been previously described as being representative of a middle-to-low socioeconomic segment of the early 20th century Lisbon population. Three anatomical locations were examined for epiphyseal union: the head, the articular tubercle and the nonarticular tubercle. The first epiphysis to show partial union is that of the nonarticular tubercle (females, 11–19 years; males, 11–19 years), followed by the epiphysis of the articular tubercle (females, 11–20 years; males, 16–20 years), and finally by the head epiphysis (females, 15–24 years; males, 16–22 years), which can still show incomplete epiphyseal closure at 25 and 24 years for females and males, respectively. A trend for earlier female maturation was observed, but the statistical tests only confirmed this result for some ribs and age groups. No directional asymmetry was found, but a significant fluctuating asymmetry was observed in all three epiphyses. A preliminary analysis showed that the asymmetric group of individuals in the study sample includes all the rural-to-urban migrants, relative to the symmetric group. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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