Effects of age and body proportions on stature estimation

Christopher B. Ruff, Markku Niskanen, Heli Maijanen, Simon Mays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Two issues involved in mathematical estimation of stature from long bone lengths are explored: the use of different age points for estimating maximum adult stature, and the effects of linear body proportions on stature estimation errors. Both issues were raised by a recent analysis of stature in the British Medieval Wharram Percy sample. Materials and methods: A large (n > 500) sample of European skeletal remains with anatomically estimated statures is used to test associations between relative lower limb length and errors in stature estimation using previously published equations for European samples. Two cadaveric samples of known ages (Terry and Bass Collections) are used to identify the most appropriate age point to employ in a linear equation with an age term for estimation of maximum adult anatomical stature. Results: Relative lower limb length is positively correlated with errors in stature estimation from lower limb bone lengths. Underestimation of stature in the Wharram Percy sample by the European equations is largely attributable to the relatively short lower limbs of this sample compared to Europeans in general. Two methods for assessing and adjusting for relative lower limb length variation are presented. Maximum adult stature is best estimated using an age point of 30 years when a linear age term is employed. Discussion: Body proportions may vary even within relatively closely related populations, so should be assessed and compared to those of reference samples whenever possible when applying mathematical stature equations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-377
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • aging
  • relative limb length
  • stature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

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