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Discriminant function sexing of the mandible of Indigenous South Africans

Forensic Science International
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2008.03.014
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Mandible
  • Sex Determination
  • Discriminant Function Analysis
  • Skeletal Biology
  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Criminology
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


Abstract South Africa currently has a high homicide rate. This results in a large number of unidentified bodies being recovered each year, many of which are referred to the forensic examiner. This situation has resulted in considerable growth of forensic anthropological research devoted to devising standards for specific application in South African medico-legal investigations. The standards suitable for Black South Africans now encompass a wide variety of skeletal elements (e.g. cranium, humerus, pelvis, femur, patella, talus, calcaneus), each with differing degrees of accuracy. Apart from a preliminary investigation of the Zulu local population, however, we note that there appears to be no established metric mandible discriminant function standards for sex determination in this population. The purpose of the present study is to undertake a comprehensive analysis of sexual dimorphism in the mandible of Black South Africans, incorporating individuals from a selection of the larger local population groupings; the primary aim is to produce a series of metrical standards for the determination of sex. The sample analyzed comprises 225 non-pathological mandibles of Black South African individuals drawn from the R.A. Dart Collection. Nine linear measurements, obtained from mathematically transformed three-dimensional landmark data, are analyzed using basic univariate statistics and discriminant function analyses. All of the measurements examined are found to be sexually dimorphic; the dimensions of the ramus and corpus lengths are most dimorphic. The sex classification accuracy of the discriminant functions ranged from 70.7 to 77.3% for the univariate method, 81.8% for the stepwise method, and 63.6 to 84% for the direct method. We conclude that the mandible is a very useful element for sex determination in this population.

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