Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Porter, Leila

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Two of the most common elements used for sex estimation in humans are the pelvis and the skull, as measurements of these two regions can provide highly accurate results. However, in some forensic cases and archaeological sites, the skull and pelvis may be damaged or missing. As a result, it is important to develop methods for estimating the sex of an individual from other bones of the body. In this study, I specifically examined the femur and determined classification accuracy rates for six femoral measurements: the supero-inferior neck diameter, epicondylar breadth, vertical head diameter, transverse femoral head diameter, femoral shaft circumference and maximum femoral length. I determined sectioning points for each measurement which provided accuracy rates of 75-94%. I then analyzed all six measurements using binary logistic regression analyses with the dependent variables of sex (male and female) and independent variables of ancestry (White, Black, and Hispanic); additionally, for the supero-inferior neck diameter measurement I included the independent variable of time period at death (modern and historic). I found that there were no significant differences between SID measurements of modern and historic periods when peoples of all ancestries were combined; in other words, knowing the time period did not make sex estimation more precise. However, for SID and all five other measurements there were significant differences between modern peoples of different ancestries. As a result, the accuracy of sex estimation improved for all six measurements when I used an ancestry-specific equation (e.g., epicondylar breadth for all ancestries 91.79% accuracy, epicondylar breadth for people of White ancestry 94.81% accuracy). Furthermore, I found that different measurements had different accuracy rates depending on the person’s ancestry. For modern individuals, I found that the measurements with the highest accuracy were epicondylar breadth for Whites and transverse head diameter for Blacks. My sample size for individuals of Hispanic ancestry was too small to identify the most accurate measurement for those samples. These data show that if the pelvis or skull is not available to a forensic anthropologist, the femur can be used to estimate the sex of an individual with a reasonably high degree of accuracy. In addition, the results indicate that people from different ancestries have slightly differently-sized bones, thus sex estimation improves if ancestry-specific equations are used. Thus, additional research is needed to explore how microevolution has shaped femoral morphology in different populations.


81 pages




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