Brief communication - Infracranial maturation in the skeletal collection from Coimbra, Portugal: New aging standards for epiphyseal union

Age at death of a single skeletal individual or a group is essential information in archaeological, paleoanthropological, and forensic contexts. Dental remains are the most commonly used age indicators, but when the dentition is not available, or too few teeth are present for an accurate age assessment, other age indicators such as skeletal maturation must be used. Of particular utility in this regard is the fusion of the epiphyses of the infracranial skeleton. Here we present new aging standards based on the infracranial maturation of individuals from the known age and sex collection from Coimbra, Portugal. We scored infracranial epiphyseal fusion and spheno-occipital synchondrosis closure (64 loci of ossification in total) on 137 skeletons from individuals between 7 and 29 years old. We further discuss developmental differences between the sexes and similarities and differences between the Coimbra documented collection and other published aging standards.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2007, Volume 134, Issue 3, pp 424 - 437

Brief communication - A probabilistic approach to age estimation from infracranial sequences of maturation

Infracranial sequences of maturation are commonly used to estimate the age at death of nonadult specimens found in archaeological, paleoanthropological, or forensic contexts. Typically, an age assessment is made by comparing the degree of long-bone epiphyseal fusion in the target specimen to the age ranges for different stages of fusion in a reference skeletal collection. While useful as a first approximation, this approach has a number of shortcomings, including the potential for “age mimicry,” being highly dependent on the sample size of the reference sample and outliers, not using the entire fusion distribution, and lacking a straightforward quantitative way of combining age estimates from multiple sites of fusion. Here we present an alternative probabilistic approach based on data collected on 137 individuals, ranging in age from 7- to 29-years old, from a documented skeletal collection from Coimbra, Portugal. We then use cross validation to evaluate the accuracy of age estimation from epiphyseal fusion. While point estimates of age can, at least in some circumstances, be both accurate and precise based on the entire skeleton, or many sites of fusion, there will often be substantial error in these estimates when they derive from one or only a few sites. Because a probabilistic approach to age estimation from epiphyseal fusion is computationally intensive, we make available a series of spreadsheets or computer programs that implement the approach presented here

American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2010, Volume 142, Issue 4, pp 655 - 664







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