Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Lee Meadows Jantz

Committee Members

Richard Jantz, Murray Marks


Determining sex from skeletal remains is important in forensic and archaeological settings. Though using the pelvis to determine sex is ideal, often remains are fragmentary or incomplete, requiring sex to be estimated from other skeletal elements. Many individual bones have been studied to evaluate sexual dimorphism and the extent to which they can be used to determine sex of an unknown individual. However, sexual dimorphism in the vertebral column has only been examined to a limited extent.

The purpose of this study is to examine the extent of sexual dimorphism throughout the entire vertebral column and, if present, to establish a method by which sex can be determined from any given vertebra, even if the exact vertebral number is not known. A total of 16 different measurements were taken on the vertebrae from a sample of 119 individuals from the William M. Bass Skeletal Collection. Given the small representation of African American individuals in the collection, only individuals of European descent were considered in this study. Since possible effects of aging were to be considered, equal numbers of males and females were randomly selected and matched for age groups. First MANOVA analyses were performed on each vertebrae and vertebral grouping, i.e. cervical C3-C7, thoracic, lumbar, and vertebral column C3-L5, to determine if each was significant for sex for each measurement taken. A stepwise analysis and then discriminant function analysis was performed to select the most sexually dimorphic measurements for each vertebra or vertebral grouping and equations were developed to allow sex to be determined from an unknown individual for each vertebra, or if the vertebral number is not known, from the vertebral grouping.

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