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New Formulas to Estimate Age at Death in Maya Populations Using Histomorphological Changes in the Fourth Human Rib*


  • *

    Funded by CONACYT National Research Grants 33743-H (2002–2005) and 49982 (2007–2009) to V.T.
    Presented partially at the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, April 7–13, 2008, in Columbus, OH.

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Andrea Cucina, Ph.D.
Facultad de Ciencias Antropológicas
Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
Carretera Mérida-Tizimin
97305, Cholul
Merida, Yucatán


Abstract:  This study develops new histomorphological algorithms for Maya populations’ human ribs and tests the applicability of published algorithms. Thin sections from the fourth rib of 36 individuals of known age were analyzed under polarized light microscopy. Osteon population density (OPD, the concentration of intact and fragmented osteons per mm2), cortical area (CA), and osteon size (OS) were recorded. Seven algorithms were calculated, using all combinations of variables, and compared to the performance of published formulas. The OPD-based formulas deviate from the known age 8.7 years on average, while those from OS and CA deviate between 10.7 and 12.8 years. In comparison, our OPD-based algorithms perform better than the one by Stout and Paine and much better than Cho et al. In conclusion, algorithms should be developed using OPD for different ethnic groups; although Stout and Paine’s can be used for Maya and maybe Mesoamerican individuals.