Tables for the Metric Evaluation of Pair-Matching of Human Skeletal Elements*


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Abstract

A common task in forensic anthropology involves pair-matching of left and right skeletal elements. This can be achieved through visual pair-matching by evaluating similarities in morphology, and through osteometric sorting, a quantitative technique. To simplify the process of osteometric sorting, this article explains the use of a statistic (M), which captures the amount of size variation found between homologous bones from single individuals. A database of skeletal measurements for all major paired postcranial bones is used to calculate values of M from a variety of sources. The maximum value and the 90th and 95th percentiles of M are provided in tabular format, and values of M from forensic cases can be compared to these tables as an objective means for determining whether homologous bones could have originated from the same individual. This simple technique can be combined with visual pair-matching to be particularly effective in cases involving commingling of skeletons.

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