Abstract: Identifying group affinity from human crania is a long-standing problem in forensic and physical anthropology. Many craniofacial differences used in forensic skeletal identification are difficult to quantify, although certain measurements of the midfacial skeleton have shown high predictive value for group classifications. This study presents a new method for analyzing midfacial shape variation between different geographic groups. Three-dimensional laser scan models of 90 crania from three populations were used to obtain cross-sectional midfacial contours defined by three standard craniometric landmarks. Elliptic Fourier transforms of the contours were used to extract Fourier coefficients for statistical analysis. After cross-validation, discriminant functions based on the Fourier coefficients provided an average of 86% correct classifications for crania from the three groups. The high rate of accuracy of this method indicates its usefulness for identifying group affinities among human skeletal remains and demonstrates the advantages of digital 3D model-based analysis in forensic research.
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