A Method for Estimating Sex Using the Clavicle, Humerus, Radius, and Ulna


  • John Albanese Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    • Additional information and reprint requests:

      John Albanese, Ph.D.

      Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

      University of Windsor

      401 Sunset Avenue

      Windsor, ON N9B 3P4


      E-mail: albanese@uwindsor.ca

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  • Some data were collected through the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Sex estimation from skeletal remains can be an important part of preliminary identification. The best source of information for estimating sex is the pelvis but it is not always available for analysis. For these cases, a probabilistic sex estimation method is presented using combinations of standard and alternative measurements of the clavicle, humerus, radius, and ulna. Various equations are developed that are not population specific and that are applicable in various recovery scenarios. The equations were tested using four independent samples (n > 370), including a forensic sample. Allocation accuracies vary by test sample and equation and are consistently good (87.4–97.5%) except for a sample of very small males that show the extreme effects of poverty and mortality bias. For many of the cases where allocation was incorrect, the probabilistic approach indicated that no confidence should be placed in the incorrect allocation and the unknown should be classified as sex indeterminate.