Spheno-Occipital Synchondrosis Fusion in Modern Americans


  • Funded by a grant from the William M. Bass Endowment.
    Presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Academy ofForensic Sciences, February 18–23, 2008, in Washington, DC.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Natalie R. Shirley, Ph.D.
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Anthropology
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
250 South Stadium Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996
E-mail: nrshirley@gmail.com


Abstract:  This study examines spheno-occipital synchondrosis fusion in the modern American population and presents age ranges for forensic use. The sample includes 162 modern individuals aged 5–25 years. The basilar synchondrosis was scored as open, closing, or closed via direct inspection of the ectocranial site of the suture. Transition analysis was used to determine the average ages at which an individual transitions from unfused to fusing and from fusing to fused. The maximum likelihood estimates from the transition analysis indicate that females are most likely to transition from open to closing at 11.4 years and males at 16.5 years. Females transition from closing to closed at 13.7 years and males at 17.4 years. The probability distributions associated with these maximum likelihood estimates were used to derive age ranges for age estimation purposes. These results reflect sexual dimorphism in basilar synchondrosis fusion and agree approximately with average age at pubertal onset.