Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Randall Skelton

Commitee Members

Ashley McKeown, Dave Dyer, Eugene Marino


ancestry determination, discriminant analysis, forensic anthropology, sexual dimorphism, sub-cranial


University of Montana


Developing a biological profile in forensic anthropology is vital for the medico-legal field. Forensic anthropologists have long sought to develop ancestry and sex determination methods using complete and fragmented skeletal elements. Ancestry is most commonly assessed using cranial traits. Sex is assessed using the os coxa and cranial traits. Post-cranial methods for identifying individuals are needed in the field because cranial and pelvic elements are often broken and incomplete. Examining other elements can increase the likelihood of identification of the individual in question. Eugene Marino (1993; 1995; 1997) developed a method for estimating ancestry and sex from eight measurements of the superior and inferior articular surfaces and vertebral foramen of the atlas from individuals of European and African descent from the Terry and Hamann-Todd collections. This study applies Marino’s method to post-1950s individuals who are self-classified as Hispanic, Euro-American, and, African-American. Two hundred and fourteen specimens were measured from the William Bass Skeletal Collection, the Pima County, Arizona’s Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Maxwell Museum at the University of New Mexico. Each measurement was obtained using sliding calipers. The measurements taken from this study were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to establish discriminant functions that distinguishes sex and ancestry from Euro-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics. This study concludes that the atlas can be used with a relatively accurate prediction to determine ancestry and sex of three modern population groups.



© Copyright 2013 Victoria Marie Swenson