An investigation into bilateral asymmetry of the appendicular skeleton of the adult human and its use in physical and forensic anthropology

  • Claudia Garrido Varas

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The aim of this study was to establish whether the asymmetry of bilateral elements of the skeleton is useful for the reassociation of paired elements in the analysis of commingled skeletal remains; particularly addressing the forensic scenario of Chilean Human Rights cases. The asymmetry of the appendicular skeleton of the modern adult Chilean population was investigated in its morphological aspect, using both traditional anthropometry and geometric morphometrics. The sample was selected from the Colección Subactual de Santiago, housed in the University of Chile, Santiago, Chile, with N= 131 (69 males and 62 females). The traditional metric analysis of size and the geometric morphometric analysis of shape showed that there was a significant difference between sides in both sexes with a strong component of directional asymmetry. Mean metrics and ranges of asymmetry were established, contributing to the characterization of this population. A method to pair match elements from commingled settings, which is a combination of metric ranges of asymmetry and principal component analysis of shape variables, was created resulting in 95% accuracy when pair matching the humerus, radius, femur and tibia. This constitutes an important contribution to the analysis of shape in forensic contexts due to its strong mathematical component, objectivity and repeatability.
Date of Award3 Sept 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorTim Thompson (Supervisor)

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