INTRODUCTION: Forensic anthropologists are continually looking
into new methods to determine sex, age and ancestry from
unknown skeletal remains, also attempting to improve existing
methods. Teeth are very durable, and are therefore very valuable
in forensic death investigations.
AIM: The aim of this paper was to use measurements of the upper
and lower canines as well as the inter-canine distances in order to
determine population affinity from unknown remains.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two hundred skeletons of South Africans were used, which included 50 individuals of each sex and population group (black and white males and females). Due to dental
wear and some antemortem tooth loss a full set of measurements
could not be obtained from particularly the white females.
Discriminant function formulae were developed for dentition of
the upper and lower jaws separately, using mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters of the canines, crown indices as well as intercanine distances.
RESULTS: Average accuracies of between 49.5% and 76.9% were
obtained. Measurements of the maxillary teeth in females (76.9%) and the mandibular teeth in males (76.0%) may be useful to determine ancestry in unknown remains. Similar accuracies were obtained when these formulae were tested using a set of measurements from different samples.
CONCLUSIONS: Canine measurements and inter-canine distance
may be used to provide an indication of population affinity from
unknown human remains.