ScienceDaily (Feb. 29, 2012) — Law enforcement officials who are tasked with identifying a body based on partial skeletal remains have a new tool at their disposal. A new paper from North Carolina State University researchers details how to determine the biological sex of skeletal remains based solely on measurements of the seven tarsal bones in the feet.
Researchers looked at the tarsal bones of 160 men and women of modern European-American descent, taking length, breadth and height measurements for each bone, with the exception of the calcaneus. For the calcaneus, or heel bone, researchers measured only its length.”Tarsals are fairly dense bones, and can be more durable than other bones — such as the pelvis — that are used to determine biological sex,” says Dr. Troy Case, an associate professor of anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. “Also, the tarsal bones are often enclosed in shoes, which further protects them from damage. That’s particularly useful in a forensic context.” The tarsals are the seven bones that make up the ankle, heel and rear part of the arch in a human foot.
Previous studies had shown that the talus — or ankle bone — and calcaneus can be fairly good indicators of biological sex. However, little research had been done on the other tarsal bones, which are significantly smaller.
The researchers found that the tarsal bones of the right foot are generally more reliable indicators for determining biological sex. For example, the length of the talus on the right foot correctly determined biological sex 90 percent of the time.
However, a single measurement can be misleading. For example, a woman may be particularly tall, or a man particularly short. So the researchers looked at combinations of measurements from multiple bones, which allow them to measure the relative size of the bones to each other.
For example, researchers found that looking at the height of the talus along with the length of the third cuneiform bone — in the center of the foot — allowed them to determine the biological sex of a skeleton with 93.6 percent accuracy.
While the research has clear forensic science applications, it may also help researchers studying ancient populations. “We evaluated remains of modern European-Americans, so our findings are not directly applicable to ancient populations,” Case says. “However, it does tell us which tarsal bones are most indicative of biological sex. So, if you have a large number of skeletons, and some of them can be sexed based on skull or pelvis measurements, you could use the information we’ve provided on tarsals to create equations for sexing the other skeletal remains in that group based solely on tarsal measurements.”
Have recently started watching the classic 1960’s Batman series, starring Adam West. I love the way they include positive public service announcements into each ep. Some of my favourites have included:
- Close ups of seat-belts, as Batman and Robin buckle them. - Batman stopping in the middle of the road to remind a bystander of the importance of locking your car if you leave it parked in the street. - And the best one. A bomb was rigged up to the Batmobile, to explode when the car hit 60mph. And how was Batman able to inadvertantly prevent the bomb from going off…
…by driving on a road with a speed limit of 55, and refusing to speed up for Robin who said he was hungry. Completely by accident, this saved their lives.
This is one of the greatest shows I have ever seen.
Why is there no Shatner on this blog yet? OR Adam West? I do not believe you are the real Suzy. The real Suzy the Red would publicly humiliate you at a most inopportune time for your treachery and lies.
Well, they’ve both already been mentioned. >.>
But maybe I’m just trying to lure the other archaeologists in with bones/scholarly articles before I start throwing Shatner and West at them. (…and when I write it like that I feel like we need a Law and Order ripoff with the two of them as head detectives.) Did you ever think of that?
For those of you who know me personally, you know I’ve been debating for a while which graduate school I should accept an offer from. I got into three very good schools in the UK (Exeter, Bradford, and University of Edinburgh), so I’ve had something of a personal dilemma since mid-February.
Bradford and Edinburgh were the two front runners for a long time. Bradford in particular due to their Digitised Diseases project, which plays into my personal interest in the use of 3D scanning in skeletal analysis. (I did my undergraduate thesis on the use of 3D laser scanners as a tool for qualifying/quantifying fracture patterns in archaeological assemblages). However, I had some major issues with not getting emails back from various departments at Bradford…for example, it took emailing four different departments and two months for me to find out if they accepted FAFSA, and even then the question was only answered because I mentioned it to a professor I had been talking to at the time.
Mid-March I finally decided on Edinburgh, largely because their osteoarchaeology program will allow me to study both human and animal bones, something I feel is important as it will give me more options down the line for a career. Furthermore, I’ve already been trained to handle both and I feel like it would be a waste to just ignore my previous training. Furthermore, there’s no reason why I can’t continue to explore my interest in 3D models in Edinburgh…I haven’t had it confirmed yet, but I’d be shocked if their lab isn’t equipped with at least some of the equipment I’d need. And if it’s not…well, I’m only enrolled in the Master’s program at the moment, so it’s not like I can’t hold off on that research until I’m working on my Ph.D.
(Side note: A couple days ago I got an email from Exeter telling me they had decided to get rid of the program I was accepted for, but that I shouldn’t worry because they transferred my acceptance into another program. O.o)
There’s not much here at the moment, but I plan to use this blog to document my experience as an osteology/zooarchaeology grad student in the UK. Since I don’t start my new classes until the fall, this site will be primarily used to talk about my previous experience in the field as well as share interesting archaeology related content from around tumblr.
So…what can you expect to find here in the future? Here’s an idea:
The ask box is open (and anonymous is currently on) as is the submission page, so feel free to ask/submit things.