Anthropological estimation of sex

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The anthropological assessment of sex involves the use of skeletal indicators to provide an estimation of whether or not an individual was biologically male or female. Estimating the biological sex of an individual is one of the four components of the biological profile and is of interest in all human osteology-based disciplines. Physical anthropologists and biological archaeologists are interested in estimating sex because it provides demographic information; forensic anthropologists are interested in sex estimation because knowing an individual’s sex contributes to the preliminary identification process for law enforcement agencies. For forensic anthropologists, knowing the sex of an individual effectively narrows missing-person searches by 50% and provides a potential way of differentiating commingled skeletal remains (Barker et al. 2008). Given that the conclusions provided by a forensic anthropologist have legal implications with potentially serious repercussions, the forensic anthropologist has an ethical obligation to ensure that the methods he or she employs have been extensively tested, validated, and widely accepted in the discipline and that they produce the most reliable results. In undertaking an estimation of sex two approaches are possible; morphological and metric. Morphological refers to the visual assessment of the shape of specific skeletal elements, and metric refers to the measuring and quantifying of anatomical parts of skeletal elements. Both methods are typically concerned with the pelvic girdle and the skull.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology
EditorsSoren Blau, Douglas H. Ubelaker
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315528939
ISBN (Print)9781629583853, 9781629583846
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2016

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