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Evaluation of Osteometric Measurements in Forensic Anthropology

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2016
13 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of an assessment of the reliability and repeatability of osteometric data, and it provides the forensic anthropology community with error rates for standard skeletal measurements.

Many components of a forensic anthropology case report are derived from osteometric data (e.g., gender, ancestry, and stature). Error associated with any method that uses osteometric data is further compounded by the error inherent in a given measurement or set of measurements. The error could result from the observer, the instrumentation, or both. Measurement error can be minimized by using appropriate instrumentation, understanding the measurement definition, and using highly reliable and repeatable measurements. Knowing the reliability of a given measurement provides a foundation from which to proceed with metric estimations of gender, ancestry, and stature, as well as method development. The results of the work reported provide foundational knowledge for forensic case analyses, research, data collection, and method development. The main product of this project is a new and considerably revised open-access online edition of a widely used laboratory manual ("Data Collection Procedures for Forensic Skeletal Material, Moore-Jansen et al., 1994). This manual was previously available only in hard copy for purchase. An instructional video placed on YouTube accompanies the manual to facilitate training opportunities nationally and internationally. The measurements in the manual interface with the Fordisc (Jantz and Ousley, 2005) computer software used to derive a biological profile of unidentified remains. The manual is the vehicle through which the managers of the Forensic Data Bank (a database of osteometric data from modern skeletons) obtain osteometric data for the Fordisc reference database. The manual will be regularly revised, and new versions will be uploaded to the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center web page. 2 figures and 12 references

Date Published: April 1, 2016