A comparison of the direct and indirect methods of estimating skeletal height from tibial fragments in black South Africans.
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The estimation of maximum bone length from its fragments is important in forensic anthropology as these length estimates can be used to estimate the total skeletal height (TSH), and thereby stature, of unknown skeletal remains. This is known as the indirect method of stature estimation. Alternatively, TSH can be estimated directly from bone fragments without first estimating maximum bone length. While regression equations for estimating maximum bone length from its fragments exist for long bones of the upper and lower limbs, these equations are population- and sex-specific and their use on populations other than the one they were derived from is not recommended. The aim of this study was therefore to develop formulae for estimating maximum tibial length from its fragments in black South Africans, which previously did not exist, and to compare the accuracies of the direct and indirect methods of estimating TSH from tibial fragments. Several measurements representing fragments were measured on the tibiae of 99 male and 99 female black South Africans, and equations estimating tibial length from these measurements were derived. Correlation coefficients of each equation were significant, and all equations estimated tibial length with moderate to high accuracy. A comparison of the standard errors of estimate (SEEs) between the direct and indirect methods of stature estimation indicate that the direct method is more accurate and should be used to estimate stature from tibial fragments when such equations exist.
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