Sex Estimation of East Asian Individuals Using Bones of the Hands and Feet

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Elizabeth O. Cho


The skull and pelvis are highly valuable in the development of a biological profile, but in circumstances where both are absent or extremely fragmented, other techniques are necessary to discern sex. A number of postcranial methods have been developed for the classification of individuals of European or African ancestry; however, there remains a paucity of Asian-specific methods. This preliminary study utilizes remains from Japan and Korea (N = 91) to test whether osteometric sorting measurements of the hands and feet, originally developed to segregate commingled remains, can be utilized to estimate the sex of East Asian individuals. Overall, females had higher classification rates than males in all discriminant functions. Of the hand and foot bone types, carpals provided the greatest discriminant value between the sexes, with average cross-validated classification rates ranging from 73.6–90.0%. Six of the carpals had classification rates over 80.0%. Tarsals had average cross-validated classification rates of 68.0–79.9%. Metacarpals and metatarsals provided the lowest average classification rates of the bones examined. Even when functions combined all of these elements together by type, all metacarpals and all metatarsals together, the prediction rates were similar to the univariate analyses. This study suggests that osteometric sorting measurements can assist in the sex estimation of East Asian remains and, of the hand and foot bones assessed, the carpals and tarsals are the most useful.

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