A revised method of sexing the human innominate using Phenice's nonmetric traits and statistical methods


  • This research was presented in part at the 78th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Chicago (April 2009).


The traits of the pubis described by Phenice (Am J Phys Anthropol 30 (1969) 297–302) have been used extensively by physical anthropologist for sex estimation. This study investigates all three of Phenice's characteristics in an approach similar to Walker's (Am J Phys Anthropol 136 (2008) 39–50) study using observations from the cranium and mandible. The ventral arc, the subpubic contour, and the medial aspect of the ischio-pubic ramus were scored on a five-point ordinal scale from a sample of 310 adult, left innominates of known ancestry and sex from the Hamann-Todd Human Osteological Collection and the W.M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection. Four observers with varying levels of experience blindly scored each trait using new descriptions and illustrations adapted from those originally created by Phenice. The scores were then analyzed with ordinal logistic regression. Using all three traits for sex classification, the mean correct classification rate was 94.5% cross-validated for experienced observers. Intra- and interobserver error in trait scoring was low for all three traits and agreement levels ranged from moderate to substantial. Tests of the method on an independent validation sample provided a classification accuracy of 86.2%. This revision of the Phenice (Am J Phys Anthropol 30 (1969) 297–302) technique is a reliable and valid method of sex estimation from the human innominate that meets the Daubert criteria for court admissibility. 2012. Am J Phys Anthropol, © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.