The identification of human skeletal remains begins with the construction of a biological profile of an unknown individual, and includes an assessment of the age, sex, ancestry, and stature. This biological profile originated from early anatomists and anthropologists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The methods used to determine the identity of an individual have since developed, expanded and been refined by modern anthropologists. However, the determination of age, sex, and stature has enjoyed much more attention than the attribution of ancestry to skeletal remains. This may be due to the difficulty in determining ancestry as well as the stigma that surrounds the categorization of population groups. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of non-metric cranial traits currently used to determine ancestry on a South African sample. The study was confined to white (European) and black (African) remains, as well as individuals of Coloured descent. Four hundred (n=400) skulls were obtained from the Pretoria Bone collection, the ancestry of whom are mainly of African and European origin. An additional two-hundred and fifty skulls (n=250) from the Kirsten collection at the University of Stellenbosch provided persons of known mixed/ Coloured descent. Nineteen standard non-metric morphological variants were chosen (17 facial traits, 2 dental traits) and scored. Data were analyzed using Microsoft Excel and SPSS v.11.5 for Windows. Polytomous logistic regression analysis is used to determine relationships between traits and within population specific groups.
Poster presented at the University of Pretoria Health Sciences Faculty Day, August 2008, Pretoria, South Africa.