Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Forensics BS


Anthropology and Sociology

First Advisor

Marie Danforth, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kristi Johnson, M.S.

Advisor Department

Anthropology and Sociology; Criminal Justice


Body mass is a characteristic of the human body that can aid in narrowing down potential identifications of unidentified individuals. However, when faced with skeletal remains, body mass is not easily ascertained, especially when the remains are incomplete. This research explores the potential correlation between body mass and long bone dimensions in order to aid in identification efforts. The limited research done prior has been conducted almost exclusively on the lower limbs—therefore, one of the primary foci of this study is to assess the efficacy of using the joint surfaces and shaft measurements of the upper limbs. Five long bones (humerus, radius, ulna, tibia, and femur) were measured across a sample size of 20 males of varying body mass from the William M. Bass Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Fifty-one measurements assessing joint surface area as well as shaft diameters were taken directly from the remains, while three more were extracted from the existing data. Descriptive analysis showed promising results for a potential correlation between body mass and certain measurements of the long bones. The significant correlations were largely evenly distributed among the articular and diaphyseal surfaces. The lower limb, especially the shaft diameters, was found to be more highly correlated with body mass values. The upper limb, however, showed much more limited potential for estimating body mass, likely since it is not directly involved in carrying weight. These findings have implications for further studies with larger sample sizes.