Testing the Effectiveness of Two Cranial Base Foramina for Metric Sex Assessment of Fragmentary Remains


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P.J. Macaluso Jr., Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
Binghamton University (SUNY)
PO Box 6000
Binghamton, NY 13902-6000
E-mail: p.james.macaluso@hotmail.com


Abstract:  Sex differences in linear and area dimensions of the foramen ovale and external opening of the carotid canal were analyzed in a documented French sample (35 men and 32 women). The results demonstrated that a low level of sexual dimorphism is present in the cranial base foramina of this sample, with only two-thirds of the examined variables exhibiting statistically significant differences (< 0.05) between the sexes. The cross-validated sex classification accuracy rates obtained for univariate and multivariate discriminant functions ranged from only 54.7 to 72.1%. In addition, measurements of the cranial base foramina were found to be difficult to record with precision, with intra-observer error percentages ranging from 2.35 to 4.23%. Error rates of this magnitude may result in the misallocation of specimens. Therefore, osteometric analysis of the foramen ovale and carotid canal external opening cannot be recommended as a useful method for cranial sex assessment in this population group.