Age Assessment from Cranial Suture Closure




Millard, Alexandra

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Cranial suture closure is a controversial method of age assessment which can be useful in forensic cases with a cranium and no sexable postcrania, which amount to 45% of the cases submitted to the FDB (Shirley 2011). The goals of this study are to determine if significant sex or ancestry differences exist in the rate of cranial suture closure, to test the rates of intra-observer and inter-observer error associated with cranial suture closure as a method of age assessment, and to compare the age distribution of a sample from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner derived from cranial suture closure to the known age distribution of a separate sample from the same location published by Anderson (2008). A modern, representative sample of individuals from the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection, Forensic Anthropology Data Bank, Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, and the Texas State Donated Skeletal Collection are used for the statistical analyses, which include independent samples t-tests and analysis of covariance. The results indicate that sex and ancestry differences are not significant for this sample. Rates of intra-observer error are high for individual suture locations, however rates for the vault and lateral-anterior systems are only 10% and 20%, respectively. The results of the PCOME test suggest a tendency of cranial suture closure to overage. These findings indicate a need for improvement of this method, which may begin with basic definitions as well as the application of more robust statistical methods.



Forensic anthropology, Age assessment, Cranial sutures


Millard, A. B. (2011). <i>Age assessment from cranial suture closure</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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