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Methods for estimating missing human skeletal element osteometric dimensions employed in the revised fully technique for estimating stature


  • Benjamin M. Auerbach

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, The University of Tennessee—Knoxville, Knoxville, TN 37996
    • Department of Anthropology, The University of Tennessee, 250 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
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One of the greatest limitations to the application of the revised Fully anatomical stature estimation method is the inability to measure some of the skeletal elements required in its calculation. These element dimensions cannot be obtained due to taphonomic factors, incomplete excavation, or disease processes, and result in missing data. This study examines methods of imputing these missing dimensions using observable Fully measurements from the skeleton and the accuracy of incorporating these missing element estimations into anatomical stature reconstruction. These are further assessed against stature estimations obtained from mathematical regression formulae for the lower limb bones (femur and tibia). Two thousand seven hundred and seventeen North and South American indigenous skeletons were measured, and subsets of these with observable Fully dimensions were used to simulate missing elements and create estimation methods and equations. Comparisons were made directly between anatomically reconstructed statures and mathematically derived statures, as well as with anatomically derived statures with imputed missing dimensions. These analyses demonstrate that, while mathematical stature estimations are more accurate, anatomical statures incorporating missing dimensions are not appreciably less accurate and are more precise. The anatomical stature estimation method using imputed missing dimensions is supported. Missing element estimation, however, is limited to the vertebral column (only when lumbar vertebrae are present) and to talocalcaneal height (only when femora and tibiae are present). Crania, entire vertebral columns, and femoral or tibial lengths cannot be reliably estimated. Further discussion of the applicability of these methods is discussed. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.