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Determining stature

skeletal changes with age 20/02/2008 12:58:00
Bergmann & Allen’s Rules

Human body form follows the ecological rules of Bergmann and Allen

Bergmann: Body mass

• Relation to latitude

• Hot climates lower body mass

• Cold climates higher body mass

Allen: Appendage Length

• Longer – hot climates

• Shorter – cold climates


• Increases until adulthood

• Decreases with age

• Highly variable

• Males usually taller than females

• Genetic & environmental components

Why measure stature?
• Adults

• Subadults/fetuses

How do we estimate it?

• Anatomical

• Mathematical

Early Studies

• Measure bones and relate to known stature/cadaver height

• Tables and formulae developed to estimate living stature

• Jean Joseph Sue 1755

o First document on estimating stature

• Topinard 1888

o Ratios of long bones to height

• Thomas Dwight 1894

o Anatomical method

 Measuring the entire skeleton

• Karl Pearson 1899
o Linear regression and correlation

• Paul Stevenson 1929

o Demonstrated population specificity


• Mismeasurement of stature in living

• Cadaver stature may differ from living stature by as much as 2”

• Stature varies with time of day

• Secular changes/population differences between reference

• Discrepancies on how to measure bones

Fully Anatomical Method (1956)

• Georges Fully (revised by Raxter et al 2006)

o Anatomical method

 Summation of lengths of :

 Skull height, vertebrae height (combined), femoral
and tibial length, ankle height

 Correction for tissue thickness
 Usually comes within 1-2 cm of true stature

o Fully-Pineau (1960)

 Proportional estimation

 Got rid of skull measurement and others. No longer
needed to estimate height

Raxter et al. (2006)

• Stature = 11.7 + (0.996)(sum of skeletal elements + Correction

Problems with the Fully Model

• Need many bones

• Tissue estimates

• Small sample size (n=102)

o Only white males

Use of Regression

• Correlation between long bone lengths and stature

• Provides error ranges

• Determine sex and ancestry FIRST

Trotter and Gleser Method (1950s)
• Maximum length of long bones

• Regression formulae

• Large sample (n = 5,000)

o Males and females

o White, black, Asian, Hispanic

Trotter and Gleser Problems

• Tibia measurement is messed up!

• Inconsistent

• Were the tibial spines included?

o They were not supposed to be included

• Was malleolus included?

o Sometimes…but not all the time

• Terry Collection

What happens with age?

• You get shorter

• Correction factors for regression equations
• Giles (1991): Longitudinal studies of stature change

Driver’s Licenses

• Self-reported stature usually inaccurate

• Self-reported stature significantly HIGHER than measured height

o Especially for males!

Ousley (1995) – FDB

• Equations based on forensic data bank

• Has larger ranges to account for errors in self reported stature
20/02/2008 12:58:00
20/02/2008 12:58:00