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Morphoscopic Trait Expressions Used to Identify Southwest Hispanics


  • Carolyn V. Hurst M.A.

    1. Department of Anthropology, College of Social Sciences, Forensic Science Program, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, 354 Baker Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824.
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  • Presented in part at the 61st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 16–21, 2009, in Denver, CO.

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Carolyn V. Hurst, M.A.
Department of Anthropology
Michigan State University
354 Baker Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824


Abstract:  Hispanics represent the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States. It is increasingly important to understand the skeletal morphology and regional variation within this diverse group. This research focuses on the eight cranial morphoscopic traits of Southwest Hispanics from Birkby et al. (J Forensic Sci 2008;53(1):29–33) and 18 additional traits. Frequency distributions assessed the prevalence of trait expressions in Southwest Hispanic, African-American, and European-American samples. Forward stepwise discriminant function analysis indicated the best traits for differentiating these three groups. Six of the Birkby et al.’s traits are prevalent in the Southwest Hispanic sample and the best traits to distinguish the three groups are as follows: incisor shoveling, anterior malar projection, nasal sill, oval window visualization, enamel extensions, anterior nasal spine, nasal aperture width, and alveolar prognathism. This research demonstrates the efficacy of morphoscopic traits in ancestry determinations and the utility of the aforementioned traits in discriminating Southwest Hispanics, African Americans, and European Americans.

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