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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 / Exploring sexual dimorphism of human occipital and temporal bones through geometric morphometrics in an identified Western-European sample

Alexandra Boucherie, Tara Chapman, Daniel García-Martínez, Caroline Polet, and Martine Vercauteren (2022)

Exploring sexual dimorphism of human occipital and temporal bones through geometric morphometrics in an identified Western-European sample

American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 178(1):54--68.

Abstract Sex estimation is a paramount step of bioprofiling in both forensic anthropology and osteoarchaeology. When the pelvis is not optimally preserved, anthropologists commonly rely on the cranium to accurately estimate sex. Over the last decades, the geometric morphometric (GM) approach has been used to determine sexual dimorphism of the crania, in size and shape, overcoming some difficulties of traditional visual and metric methods. This article aims to investigate sexual dimorphism of the occipital and temporal region through GM analysis in a metapopulation of 50 Western-European identified individuals. Statistical analyses were performed to compare centroid size and shape data between sexes through the examination of distinct functional modules. Regression and Procrustes ANOVA were used to examine allometric and asymmetrical implications. Discriminant functions, combining size and shape data, were established. Significant dimorphism in size was found, with males having larger crania, confirming the major influence size has on cranial morphology. Allometric relationships were found to be statistically significant in both right and left temporal bones while shape differences between sexes were only significant on the right temporal bone. The visualization of the mean consensus demonstrated that males displayed a larger mastoid process associated with a reduced mastoid triangle and less projected occipital condyles. This exploratory study confirms that GM analysis represents an effective way to quantitatively capture shape of dimorphic structures, even on complex rounded ones such as the mastoid region. Further examination in a larger sample would be valuable to design objective visualization tools that can improve morphoscopic sex estimation methods.

Peer Review
cranial base; geometric morphometrics; occipital bone; sexual dimorphism; temporal bone
  • DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.24485
  • ISSN: 2692-7691

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