Reliable and valid population specific standards are necessary to accurately develop a biological profile,
which includes an estimation of peer-reported social identification (Hefner, 2009). During the last 300 years,
colonialism, slavery and apartheid created geographic, physical and social divisions of population groups in
South Africa. The purpose of this study was to evaluate variation in nasal bone and aperture shape in a
modern population of black, white, and coloured South Africans using standard craniometric variables and
geometric morphometrics, namely general Procrustes and elliptical Fourier analyses.
Fourteen standard landmarks were digitally recorded or computationally derived from 310 crania
using a 3D coordinate digitizer for discriminant function, principal components and generalized
Procrustes analyses. For elliptical Fourier analysis, outlines of the nasal aperture were generated from
standardized photographs. All classification accuracies were better than chance; the lowest accuracies
were for coloured and the highest accuracies were for white South Africans. Most difficulties arose in
distinguishing coloured and black South African groups from each other. Generally, misclassifications
were noted between the sexes within each group rather than among groups, which suggests that sex has
less influence on nasal bone and aperture shape than ancestry. Quantifiable variation in shape of the
nasal aperture region between white and non-white South African groups was observed.