A bayesian approach to age estimation in modern Americans from the clavicle

Natalie Langley-Shirley, Richard L. Jantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Clavicles from 1289 individuals from cohorts spanning the 20th century were scored with two scoring systems. Transition analysis and Bayesian statistics were used to obtain robust age ranges that are less sensitive to the effects of age mimicry and developmental outliers than age ranges obtained using a percentile approach. Observer error tests showed that a simple three-phase scoring system proved the least subjective, while retaining accuracy levels. Additionally, significant sexual dimorphism was detected in the onset of fusion, with women commencing fusion at least a year earlier than men (women transition to fusion at approximately 15 years of age and men at 16 years). Significant secular trends were apparent in the onset of skeletal maturation, with modern Americans transitioning to fusion approximately 4 years earlier than early 20th century Americans and 3.5 years earlier than Korean War era Americans. These results underscore the importance of using modern standards to estimate age in modern individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-583
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Age estimation
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Clavicle
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic science
  • Probit regression
  • Secular change
  • Skeletal maturation
  • Transition analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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