Ancestral differences in femoral neck axis length: Possible implications for forensic anthropological analyses

Angi M. Christensen, William D. Leslie, Sanford Baim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

In forensic anthropological contexts, very few methods of estimating ancestry from the postcranial skeleton are available. The cranium is widely recognized to show the greatest ancestral variation, and is often regarded by forensic anthropologists as the only reliable bone for estimating ancestry from unidentified skeletal remains. Several studies have demonstrated ancestral variation in aspects of the femur, but none have shown significant predictive power for discriminating multiple groups, and have therefore not gained wide acceptance by forensic anthropologists. Skeletal health experts (particularly bone densitometrists), however, have long recognized a relationship between proximal femur geometry (especially hip axis length) and osteoporosis-related fracture risk. Moreover, fracture risk has been noted to vary between ancestral groups. Here, we investigate whether measurements that are related to fracture risk might also be used to estimate ancestry from unidentified skeletal remains. Specifically, we investigate ancestral differences in femoral neck axis length (FNAL) and find significant differences between European, Asian and African groups in both women and men. FNAL was largest in European groups followed by African and then Asian groups. The greatest discriminating power was found between European and Asian groups, but was also significant between European and African groups. These differences may have utility in estimating ancestry in forensic anthropological contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193.e1-193.e4
JournalForensic Science International
Volume236
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Keywords

  • Ancestry estimation
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan
  • Femoral neck axis length
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Hip axis length
  • Proximal femur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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