A Validation Study of the Langley et al. (2017) Decision Tree Model for Sex Estimation*

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Abstract

Langley et al. (2017) developed a sex estimation decision tree utilizing two traditional cranial traits (glabella and mastoid) and a new trait: zygomatic extension. This study aimed to test the reliability of their zygomatic extension scoring method and validate their sex estimation method. Ordinal score data were collected from 281 male and female U.S. White and Black individuals. The five traditional cranial traits were collected from physical specimens, while zygomatic extension was scored from 3D cranial models. Intra- and interobserver analyses carried out on a subsample of 30 individuals indicate good agreement between zygomatic scores. The decision tree correctly sexed 71.5% of the sample, but a strong sex bias (94.2% correct for females, 49.3% correct for males) severely limits the utility of this method. The Walker (2008) and Stevenson et al. (2009) methods produced higher accuracy rates (80.8% and 82.6%, respectively), although these methods also produced sex and ancestry biases.

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