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A Computational Framework for Age-at-Death Estimation from the Skeleton: Surface and Outline Analysis of 3D Laser Scans of the Adult Pubic Symphysis

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 62 Issue: 6 Dated: 2017 Pages: 1434-1444
Date Published
11 pages

Since there is a need for alternative tools that enable the objective and mathematically robust assessment of true chronological age at death, this article describes three fully computational, quantitative shape analysis methods and a combination approach that uses three-dimensional laser scans of the pubic symphysis.


In forensic anthropology, age at death estimation typically requires the macroscopic assessment of the skeletal indicator and its association with a phase or score. High subjectivity and error are the recognized disadvantages of this approach. The current project reports a novel age related shape measure, focusing on the changes observed in the ventral margin curvature, and refine two former methods, whose measures capture the flatness of the symphyseal surface. We show how we can decrease age-estimation error and improve prior results by combining these outline and surface measures in two multivariate regression models. The presented models produce objective age estimates that are comparable to current practices with root mean square errors between 13.7 and 16.5 years. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017