Proposed Method for Predicting Pair Matching of Skeletal Elements Allows Too Many False Rejections

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Abstract

Byrd proposes a method for predicting pair matches in commingled remains to reduce visual comparison. The method compares differences between left and right postcranial element measurements in commingled samples with differences in known pairs from a reference sample using a t-score approach. We duplicated his protocol using six elements from two samples of known paired elements (n = 854 to 1063) and calculated the number of pairs correctly predicted. Time commitment was estimated by mathematically attempting matches with all left and right elements in these samples. Although the results show an 86% reduction in the number of potential pairs requiring visual matching, we do not recommend the method because (i) the normality assumption for use of a t-score approach is violated, (ii) no account is made for bilateral asymmetry, and (iii) the high rate of false rejections (up to 22%) undermines its ability to show true incompatibilities for potential pair matches.

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