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NCJ Number: 228500 Find in a Library
Title: Cranial Nonmetric Variation and Estimating Ancestry
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:54  Issue:5  Dated:September 2009  Pages:985-995
Author(s): Joseph T. Hefner, Ph.D.
Date Published: September 2009
Page Count: 11
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This research focused on the frequency distribution and inter-trait correlations of 11 common morphoscopic traits in order to demonstrate that the experience-based approach to ancestry prediction is an unscientific art, because it is unreplicable, unreliable, and invalid.
Abstract: Ten of the 11 traits examined had frequency distributions with significant differences between groups (African, Asian, European, and Native-American), but the range in variation of these traits far exceeded previous assumptions. These within-group variations show that extreme trait expressions are not reliable for estimating ancestry through visual observation alone. Instead, traits should be analyzed within a statistical framework. The morphoscopic approach to ancestry determination using traits pioneerd by Hooton has been tested within a statistical framework in order to assess the validity and reliability required to comply with the Daubert challenge. The problem of subjectivity in scoring traits (reliability) can be largely solved by using standard drawings, following Hooton and Walker. The optimal weighing of the traits seen in an individual to proudce the best prediction of ancestry (validity) can be achieved through statistical methods and reference group trait distributions. Only when these are used together can nonmetric traits be reliable, replicable, and valid indicators of ancestry. In order to examine trait variation among groups, 11 common morphoscopic traits were collected for 747 individuals. Following the typical forensic model, populations were grouped according to geographic ancestry and a pooled, four-group model was used for all subsequent analyses. 14 figures, 14 tables, and 38 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Bone analysis; Death investigations; Ethnicity; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; Race; Victim identification
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