Examining Differences in Presumed Migrants from Texas and Arizona Using Cranial and Dental Data

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Christopher A. Maier
Rebecca L. George


As the result of immigration policies enacted in the 1990s, migrants have been forced to take more dangerous routes into the country, resulting in an increased appearance of presumed migrant remains in the work of forensic anthropologists. Recent research suggests that migrants coming through the Arizona corridor are from different geographic origins than those entering the United States through Texas. Differences among these groups have been identified in genetic and craniometric research, but it is unknown to what degree these differences affect cranial macromorphoscopic traits and dental morphology. Cranial macromorphoscopic traits and dental morphology were recorded following published standards, for individuals of presumed migrant status in addition to European, African, and Native Americans. Trait frequencies were examined for significant differences using chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests. Additionally, dichotomized dental morphology data were used to evaluate differences between the two samples using the mean measure of divergence. The two samples are significantly different in their frequency of cranial macromorphoscopic traits; specifically, the Operation Identification (OpID) and Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME) samples are different in frequencies of three cranial macromorphoscopic traits. Additionally, dental morphological traits support differences among samples, particularly between the OpID and PCOME samples. Although cranial traits do not show a clear pattern, dental morphology supports a stronger non-European contribution to individuals in the OpID sample. Although the samples from the PCOME and OpID are often both considered “Hispanic,” they are different in the expression of cranial and dental traits. These results are preliminary but support further investigations of ancestry on the regional level.

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