• forensic science;
  • forensic anthropology;
  • human identification;
  • sexual determination;
  • metacarpals;
  • hand bones;
  • discriminant functions;
  • Spanish population

ABSTRACT: Anthropologists and forensic pathologist determine the sex of skeletons by analyzing quantitative and qualitative characters in the bone remains. Generally, the skull and os coxae are the elements most used, but they are not always preserved. In such cases, the investigator needs to have available other techniques based on different remains. The aim of the present work is to develop and describe discriminating functions for sex determination in a recent Spanish population using metacarpal morphology. A sample of bones corresponding to a contemporary Spanish population deposited at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) was analyzed. This sample comprised 697 metacarpals, corresponding to 79 adult individuals (37 men and 42 women). These allowed us to obtain 120 unifactorial discriminant functions. We selected the 10 equations, one for each metacarpal from both hands, that provided the best sexual discrimination. The correct sex classification rank progressed from 81%, for right (R) metacarpals IV and V, to 91%, for left (L) metacarpal II. The results suggest that metacarpals are structures that can be used for sex determination in paleoanthropological and forensic identifications.