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Reliable age-at-death estimates from the adult skeleton are of fundamental importance in forensic anthropology, because it contributes to the identity parameters used in a medicolegal death investigation. However, reliable estimates are difficult because many traditional aging methods depend on a set of population-specific criteria derived from individuals of European and African descent. The absence of information on the potential differences in the aging patterns of underrepresented, especially Latinx, populations may hinder our efforts to produce useful age-at-death estimates. In response to these concerns, this study explores the utility of currently available aging techniques and whether population-specific aging methods among Latinx groups are needed. The authors obtained data from two skeletal collections representing modern individuals of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin. They examined five newly developed computational shape-based techniques using 3D laser scans of the pubic symphysis and one traditional bone-to-phase technique. A validation test of all computational and traditional methods was implemented, and new population-specific equations using the computational algorithms were generated and tested against a subsample. Results suggest that traditional and computational aging techniques applied to the pubic symphysis perform best with individuals within 35–45 years of age. Levels of bias and inaccuracy increase as chronological age increases, with overestimation of individuals younger than 35 years and underestimation of individuals older than 45 years. New regression models provided error rates comparable to, and in some occasions outperformed, the original computational models developed on white American males, but age estimates did not significantly improve. This study shows that population-specific models do not necessarily improve age estimates in Latinx samples. Results do suggest that computational methods can ultimately outperform the Suchey-Brooks method and provide improved objectivity when estimating age at death in Latinx samples.
Figueroa Soto, Cristina; Algee-Hewitt, Bridget F.B.; Bravo Morante, Guillermo; Slice, Dennis E.; and Steadman, Dawnie W.
"Age-at-Death Estimation for Modern Populations in Mexico and Puerto Rico through the Use of 3D Laser Scans of the Pubic Symphysis,"
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol90/iss3/4