Craniometric Analysis of South American Samples to Aid in Migrant Identification




Robledo, Ivanna

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The ongoing humanitarian aid crisis at the US-Mexico border has experienced an increase of individuals “Other Than Mexico” apprehended in the past couple of years. In 2019, Mexico was surpassed as the nationality with the most apprehended individuals reported by the CBP (US Customs and Border Patrol, 2019a). Despite the increase of Central and South American individuals reported as apprehended, current craniometric data does not have reference samples of these reported countries. Craniometric analysis can aid in the identification of presumed migrant remains by estimating the geographic origin of an individual. Currently, the only reference data available for comparison when conducting anthropological analysis on migrant includes a “Hispanic” and a Guatemalan Mayan group. Grouping Latin American individuals under the term “Hispanic” is problematic as the term does not include all Latin American countries. Therefore, this project aims to address these problems by looking at craniometric variation from South American samples in comparison to current Central American reference data. This research looks at archaeological and modern samples from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico using thirteen ILDs as described by Howells (1973). Results further demonstrate the need of modern reference samples and further analysis between country samples and within country samples. Incorporating reference samples of the CBP reported apprehension can aid in the identification of presumed migrants found in South Texas and allow for further anthropological, DNA, and isotopic analysis to further provide a positive identification.



craniometric analysis, biological distance, bioaffinity, identification, migrant, forensic anthropology


Robledo, I. (2021). Craniometric analysis of South American samples to aid in migrant identification (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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