Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Orlosky, Frank James, 1943-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Anthropometry; Age determination (Zoology); Skeletal maturity


Anthropologists are concerned with estimating age at death from human skeletal remains. Traditional macroscopic techniques, such as aging from the pubic symphysis or cranial suture closure, are often inaccurate or limited in their application, particularly for archaeological specimens. Age estimation techniques for older individuals are the least accurate. However, the recently developed microscopic aging techniques of Kerley and others have been successfully applied to skeletal material ranging in age from birth to 95 years. Kerley's technique has been criticized on several levels. This thesis examines the implications of Kerley's assumption that the midshafts of the long bones in the leg are homogeneous for age-related histological osteon counts. Kerley used cross sections taken from the center of the midshafts of the femur, tibia and fibula for his observations and then developed regression formulas for age estimation. An attempt was made to correct and/or expand Kerley's method for determining age at death from human cortical bone. Using a sample of 20 human fibulas from an unknown age population, cross sections from five different areas of the bone were examined for osteon content. Three sections were within the midshaft and one section was taken from each end at 15% of the total bone length. The data derived from the midshaft sections was subjected to statistical analysis to determine the degree of osteonal consistency. End cuts were compared to data from the center cut to determine if a relationship existed between the proximal and distal ends of the bone shaft and the center. Data resulting from osteon counts taken in the three areas of the midshaft was inconsistent with Kerley's assumption about homogeneity of cortical bone features in this section of the fibula. Osteon counts from the proximal and distal end cuts did not correlate well with the center cut and therefore could not be used for age estimation.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


vi, 48 pages




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