Quantification of Maxillary Dental Arcade Curvature and Implications for Estimating Ancestry in Forensic Anthropology
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Anthropology Honors Theses; 2013
Previous studies show that palate shape can be used as an indicator of biological ancestry in the identification of modern human remains. Qualitative analyses suggest that individuals of African, European, and Indigenous American ancestry tend to have hyperbolic, parabolic, and elliptical-shaped palates, respectively. The purpose of this study was to evaluate interobserver error in ancestry estimation using the shapes outlined in previous studies. This study also explores shape variation in the Gullah African American and Seminole Indigenous populations using the geometric morphometric analysis of maxillary dental casts. The first phase of this study was composed of a survey in which ten graduate students with training in osteology were asked to ascribe biological ancestry to twenty-nine maxillary dental casts from the Gullah and Seminole samples from the Renee M. Menegaz-Bock Dental Anthropology Collection. The results show that the palate shape is not an effective indicator of ancestry in these populations. The mean classification accuracy for the survey was only 27.9% (p-value= 0.58), indicating that the likelihood of assigning the correct ancestry to a given cast using palate shape was not much higher than random assignment. In the second part of the study, Discriminant Function Analysis correctly classified only 72.2% (n=158) of the sample. Additionally, there were no significant differences in size or curvature between the two groups. This study is important for the field of forensic anthropology because it provides a quantitative evaluation of a traditional qualitative method used in the identification of human remains, which ensures that anthropological methods continue to meet legal standards for evidence.
Best Undergraduate Writing Award
Academic Major: Anthropology
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