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NIJ and Texas State University-Improving Identification of Mexican Hispanic Remains: New Information Helps Forensic Anthropologists Assess Mexican Hispanic Ancestry and Sex

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages

This brief report describes the development and benefits of the first accurate identification criteria for the remains of Mexican Hispanics, as well as the development of a database of skeletal information on Mexican Hispanics, along with classification functions for population-specific sex estimates that are applicable to the majority of Mexican Hispanics within the United States.


Prior to this project, very little had been done in developing the accurate assessment of the sex and ancestry of Mexican Hispanic individuals. Dr. Kate Spradley, a biological anthropologist at Texas State University-San Marcos, became aware of this issue while earning her PhD in anthropology at the University of Tennessee. While involved in a lab assignment to identify skeletal remains, she recognized that some of the bones were not those of American White or American Black individuals and supposed that they were probably Mexican Hispanic; however, there were too few criteria available for her to make a scientifically accurate identification. After becoming employed at Texas State University- San Marcos, she received the grant award from the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for the development of such criteria. Due to her work, ancestry classification statistics for Mexican Hispanic individuals have risen from 70-percent accuracy to 85 percent. The development of the identification criteria and the database of skeletal information has made it easier for forensic anthropologists to identify the remains of Mexican Hispanic individuals. Specifically, this has facilitated the identification of deceased, undocumented border-crossers.

Date Published: January 1, 2015