Reports in the literature suggest that diagnostic differences in craniofacial morphology between blacks and whites arise very early in development. These reports, however, have not been consistent regarding which traits are diagnostic and have failed to provide forensic anthropologists with a reliable method of assessment. In an effort to clarify the situation, 13 non-metric craniofacial traits were scored and analyzed statistically in a sample of 70 black and white perinatal specimens obtained from the Smithsonian's fetal osteology collection. Chi-square analysis revealed significant (p < 0.05) differences in the distribution of five of the 13 non-metric traits examined. Compared with black perinates, white perinates more frequently possessed a relatively narrow supraoccipital portion of the occipital bone, a prominent anterior nasal spine, "deep" subnasal margins, an elongated vomer, and semi-circular temporal squamae. When these five traits were entered into a stepwise logistic regression, temporal squamous shape, vomer shape and subnasal margin definition were found to be predictive of race (79.1% overall correct classification). An independent sample of 39 black and white perinates was then used to validate the results; overall, 67.5% of the validation sample could be classified correctly. Reasons for the disparity in correct classification rates between the initial and follow-up sample are provided. Results of the present study may be useful for anthropologists who encounter unidentified cranial material from this age range.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine