Sex Determination from the Second Cervical Vertebra: A Test of Wescott’s Method on a Modern American Sample


  • Presented as a poster at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 22–27, 2010, in Seattle, WA.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Jonathan D. Bethard, M.A.
Boston University School of Medicine
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
72 East Concord St (L 1004)
Boston, MA 02118


Abstract:  Numerous methods for establishing a biological profile exist; however, many of these methods rely on the recovery of several specific bones or on fragile skeletal elements that are sometimes irrecoverable. It is for this reason new methods utilizing other previously under-documented bones should be established and tested by the forensic anthropological community. This study tests the accuracy of Wescott’s (J Forensic Sci 2000;45(2)) method for determining sex from the second cervical vertebra. Specimens were drawn from the donated skeletal collection curated at the Hamilton County Forensic Center (= 57) and the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection (n = 243). Both intra- and inter-observer error rates were low and accurate classifications ranged from 78% (females-Function 1) to 90.6% (males-Function 5). Of the five functions, Function 4 achieved the highest overall accuracy, with 260 individuals (86.7%) falling into the correct category. Overall, this method is an effective classificatory tool for sex estimation.