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Project IDENTIFICATION: Developing Accurate Identification Criteria for Hispanics

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2013
69 pages

In addressing the lack of population-specific reference data or criteria for Hispanics of Mexican origin (the largest proportion of the Hispanic U.S. population), this project obtained cranial and post-cranial skeletal measurements for individuals from Mexico, in order to build a database of available reference data for further research and development; to create sectioning points and classification functions for population-specific sex estimates applicable to the majority of Hispanics in the United States; and to use traditional and geometric morphometric methods with the new reference data in exploring morphological variation among Mexicans, American Blacks, and Whites.


This project provides new reference data from positively identified Mexicans, so as to improve sex and ancestry estimation. The data collected for Project IDENTIFICATION provide new reference data to further research and development in forensic anthropology. Population-specific sex estimation criteria are now available that are appropriate for the majority of Hispanics of Mexican origin in the United States. Ancestry classifications have been improved with the addition of Howells measurements. The researchers recommend that these measurements be incorporated into data collection protocols for forensic anthropologists. New population-specific classification functions provide cross-validated classification rates up to 96 percent. Results for the geometric morphometric analyses indicate that Mexicans and Guatemalans are smaller than American Whites and Blacks; and all groups differ in craniofacial morphology, particularly in the mid-facial region. An analysis of shape shows that Mexicans and Guatemalans have small cranial vaults in height and length; exhibit alveolar prognathism, and have a wide mid-facial area; however, using principal components with centroid size fails to achieve classification rates as high as traditional craniometric data in ancestry estimation. When running a DFA with all reference groups, the Mexican sample provides the lowest classification values, when Guatemalans are removed from the analysis, the classification rate for Mexicans increases. 8 figures, 30 tables, 57 references, and research dissemination information

Date Published: November 1, 2013