Scientists make it easier to determine skeletons' sex

Posted by Mike Luttrell

Ever look at that skeleton in your high school classroom and wonder if it was a guy or girl? A new technique has been developed to make it easier to answer the gender question.

To now, determining a skeleton's gender has been largely just reliant on making an educated guess from various physical features of the bones.
However, scientists have now come up with a much more accurate way of linking gender to the size and shape of the pelvis. The process involves creating a "3D map" of the pelvis and then evaluating certain key areas of the bone that lead to determining sex.

It is so comprehensive that even if only 15%-20% of the pelvis is recovered, the gender can still be determined.

"For example, when faced with fragmentary remains of the hip bone, it can be difficult to determine the deceased person's sex based solely on visual inspection. This can be a significant challenge when evaluating remains from disasters - such as plane crashes - or degraded remains in mass burials," said researcher Ann Ross, who co-wrote the study.

The "technique is accurate, but is not without its limitations," she added, but in the end, it's a score for skeletons.