U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

A Macromorphoscopic Databank: Establishing the Statistical Analysis of Macromorphoscopic Data in Forensic Anthropology

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2018
195 pages
Although craniometric analyses are widely used in ancestry estimation, at the time of this project, macromorphoscopic (MMS) trait data had not yet gained the empirical support needed for use in a court of law, so the current project's goal was to develop a large reference dataset of cranial MMS trait data to improve ancestry estimations for unidentified human skeletal remains in forensic contexts.

This project created the Macromorphoscopic Databank (MaMD), which houses MMS trait data from skeletal collections around the world. This was done to capture patterns of human variation in MMS trait expression and to create a more informed and refined model for ancestry estimation. In the context of the Daubert decision (U.S. Supreme Court, 1993) and other federal court rulings that guide judges in evaluating expert witness testimony, the methods used to establish the biological profile in forensic anthropology require 1) empirical support, 2) estimated error rates, 3) method standardization, and 4) validation of the method through the peer review process. The purpose of the current research was to establish a large reference database that contains data from multiple samples that could be used to quantify macromorphoscopic trait analysis in ancestry estimation. The MaMD will be an important tool for reference data during casework; and as more data are added to the MaMD, its use will expand as a central repository that contains data for appropriate reference populations encountered in forensic anthropological investigations. The data collection methods are described, along with the structure and content of the data. 1 table, 7 references, and a listing of project-related publications, presentations, and workshops

Date Published: October 1, 2018