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Sex estimation from the calcaneus and talus using discriminant function analysis and its possible application in fossil remains

Abstract

Foot bones have been shown to be sexually dimorphic and they are frequently used for sex estimation. In this study, we estimated the sex based on the calcaneus and the talus of a modern North American population obtained from the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection, housed at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (Ohio, USA). A total of 164 calcanei (84 males and 80 females) and 162 tali (83 males and 79 females) were studied. Several univariate discriminant functions were obtained, with accuracy ranging from 70.2 to 90.2%. The best variable for sex estimation in this sample is the talar length. Multivariate discriminant functions were also obtained. The accuracy (83.3 to 96.4%) was generally higher than that obtained with the univariate discriminant functions. The best multivariate equation is the one that uses all the variables measured in the talus. Discriminant functions previously reported in other studies were tested on the Hamann-Todd collection to verify their validity outside the population for which they were made. In addition, together with the equations reported here, they were applied on data from fossil remains belonging to three different groups (Homo neanderthalensis, hominins from the Sima de los Huesos, and anatomically modern Homo sapiens) in order to find some discriminant functions that allow for a valid determination of sex in this type of fossil populations. Several equations yielded good correct allocation percentages in fossil populations thus facilitating the estimation of sex for 16 fossil specimens of previously unknown sex.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge Carlos Lorenzo, who provided some data. We appreciate the constructive and fruitful discussion provided by Ignacio Martínez. Lauren Ames kindly reviewed a previous English version. We are indebted to the people who have allowed us access to the important skeletal collection in their care and kindly provided assistance at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) for access to the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection.

Funding

This research has received support in part from the ‘Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (MICINN)’ of Spain (Project PGC2018-093925-B-C33).

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Correspondence to Carmen Alonso-Llamazares.

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Alonso-Llamazares, C., Pablos, A. Sex estimation from the calcaneus and talus using discriminant function analysis and its possible application in fossil remains. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 11, 4927–4946 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00855-y

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Keywords

  • Sex determination
  • Discriminant functions
  • Calcaneus
  • Talus
  • Foot
  • Hamann-Todd collection
  • Fossils