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Critical analysis of the factors affecting the "cranial suture aging method" using the Hamann Todd Collection Open Access


Other title
Age estimation
Cranial sutures
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Sivakumaran, Rajitha
Supervisor and department
Harrington, Lesley (Anthropology)
Mayne Correia, Pamela (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Losey, Rob (Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Cranial suture closure has been regarded as an unreliable method for age estimation due to the large amount of variability in the commencement, progression and termination of fusion. A preliminary study done on the J.C.B. Grant Collection (University of Toronto; Toronto, Ontario) showed that actual ages often did not fall in the age ranged produced by cranial suture aging. Accuracy was lost with increasing age. The Hamann Todd Skeletal Collection (Cleveland, Ohio) was used to examine the sagittal, coronal and lambdoid sutures in an attempt to determine the source(s) of variation. Sutural development is a moderate (to poor) predictor of age. In both the coronal and lambdoid sutures, significant sex-based and population-specific differences were noted. Black individuals had a stronger age-score relationship. Adolescents and adults up to 39 years of age showed a stronger age-score correlation than older individuals. Beginning twenty or thirty years before the turn of the century, the age-score relationship becomes strong, hinting at a secular bias. Individuals born from the late 19th century to the 20th century showed an age-score correlation stronger than all else reported so far. Progression is delayed in the oldest individuals dating to the earliest times. Black individuals had a significant height-score relationship in the sagittal while white subjects had a nearly negligible correlation. Adolescents showed the greatest correlation between height and synostosis. The negative trend indicates that taller people are associated with less development. Stronger age-score relationships were generally seen in underweight individuals. Individuals who used alcohol and/or narcotics for prolonged periods may be more likely to exhibit an obliterated sagittal suture. The presence of cranial features like wormian bones may be associated with a more predictable pattern of sutural development. Very light weight skulls were more likely to exhibit greater fusion than extremely dense ones. The presence of the parietal foramina does not influence the rapid degree of closure seen in the obelionic region of the sagittal suture. Of all the sutural segments examined, the inferior coronal has the strongest age-score correlation. Progression in the internasal facial suture was rapid for the Hamann Todd sample, with average scores surpassing all three cranial sutures.
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