Technical note: Estimating sex using cervical canine odontometrics: A test using a known sex sample


  • Brenna Hassett

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square London WC1H 0PY, UK
    • University College London, Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom
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The size of the permanent human canine tooth is one of the few sexually dimorphic features to be present in childhood and as such offers the opportunity to assist in the identification of sex in remains where no other appropriate criteria exist, such as in subadults. However, canine odontometrics are often associated with high levels of interobserver error and can be difficult to access if dentition is in situ. Additionally, appropriate points of measurement can be difficult to identify if the tooth is worn. Alternate measurements of the cervical canine diameters have been proposed as solutions to these issues, but the utility of these measurements in estimating sex has not been conclusively demonstrated. This study uses the buccolingual and mesiodistal cervical diameter of the canines from a known-sex sample from St. Bride's Church, London and a partially known-sex sample from the Old Church, Chelsea, London to classify individuals as male or female. A discriminant function classification using these diameters successfully identifies sex in 93.8% of the known-sex assemblage and 95% of the partially osteologically estimated sex assemblage. It is suggested that cervical canine diameters are highly repeatable measurements with low interobserver error, can be obtained on worn and in situ teeth, and provide as good or better guidance on estimating sex in human remains as standard maximal diameters. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.