Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Marie Danforth

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Ed Jackson

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Amy Young

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


Research has shown that measurements from the pelvic bones and femur can be utilized for race estimation when the skull is absent or damaged. The literature reported levels up to 95% accuracy when utilizing discriminant function analysis to simultaneously classify race and sex. This research examined the previously reported methods of race estimation within the evidence standards for forensic science as well as current statistical standards. New metric measurements from the pelvis and femur were also proposed and tested to assess their utility as race indicators. Finally, this research addressed concerns that skeletal collections like the Robert J. Terry Skeletal Collection are no longer representative of populations within the United States.

None of the methods sufficiently separated unknown skeletal remains by race. When the methods were modified to conform to current statistical standards, the overall accuracy fell considerably. The reproductions of DiBennardo’s and Taylor’s, and İşcan’s discriminant function analyses yielded accuracy rates of 85.8% and 60.4%, respectively, for the original grouped cases and 80.7% and 58.9%, respectively, for cross-validated grouped cases, which were substantially lower than those reported in the literature and did not adequately meet the standards for admissible evidence. Descriptive statistics showed that more variations exist within African American and Caucasian American populations in the United States than among them.

The implications of this research demonstrate a need for stricter adherence to current standards, more rigorous validation of morphometric methods utilized for forensic anthropology casework, and investigation into alternative ways of thinking about and utilizing human variation.