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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • forensic anthropology;
  • ancestry estimation;
  • dental morphology;
  • discriminant function;
  • African Americans;
  • European Americans;
  • Hispanic Americans

Abstract

The use of dental morphological characteristics to estimate the ancestry of skeletal remains commonly includes few traits, combines dental traits with other skeletal characteristics, and is nonstatistical. Here, discriminant function equations for estimating whether an unknown person was African American or European American, or Hispanic American are presented. Equations were developed from observations of 29 dental traits in 509 individuals. These equations were then applied to the original sample and a test sample (n = 40). Correct assignment rates for estimating African or European American versus Hispanic American range from 66.7 to 89.3%. Correct assignment of African Americans versus European Americans is 71.4 to 100%. Correct geographic assignment of Hispanics from South Florida or New Mexico range from 46.2 to 72.7%. Various discriminant equations using combinations of characteristics are provided. Coupled with the error estimates, these equations offer an important step in the use of dental morphology in contemporary, post-Daubert forensic science.