Sexual dimorphism in skeletal browridge and chin morphologies determined using a new quantitative method

Heather M. Garvin, Christopher B. Ruff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Qualitative methods of describing sexual dimorphism in discrete cranial traits have been criticized for their subjectivity and statistical limitations. However, researchers have yet to be able to accurately capture the morphology of these individual traits using traditional metric techniques. This article presents a method to quantify morphological variation in the skeletal browridge and chin using 3D surface laser scans. Browridge and chin regions are isolated from the skull using objectively defined landmarks and planes. Region areas and volumes are used to quantify absolute and relative size, while semilandmarks along transects are used for more detailed morphometric analyses. An intraobserver error study indicates high repeatability of the method. Application of the method is demonstrated on a sample of US males and females of black and white ancestries. Results suggest significant effects of both sex and ancestry on brow and chin morphologies and are consistent with traditional qualitative descriptions. Our results indicate that the method can accurately and reliably quantify browridge and chin morphologies, providing a tool to objectively describe and statistically analyze these traditionally qualitative discrete cranial traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-670
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • laser scanning
  • mental eminence
  • morphometric
  • sex determination
  • supraorbital torus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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