The application of theory in skeletal age estimation

Natalie R. Langley, Beatrix Dudzik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses the theoretical basis and historical development of methods for the determination of skeletal age. Skeletal ages, as assessed by forensic anthropologists, are necessarily expressed as age ranges rather than exact years, since skeletal age is affected by a number of variables including patterns of bone growth, development, and degeneration as well as external environmental factors, such as diet and disease. Development of the study and estimation of skeletal age at death owes a great deal to the broader study of anatomy, which influenced many early physical anthropologists. More recently, forensic anthropologists have focused on developing population-specific standards for assessing skeletal age and are also using modern skeletal samples to document secular change, recognizing that microevolutionary change is still ongoing. New methods for determining skeletal age, such as component scoring and various computer software programming, will continue to improve age assessment. But quantification of more subjective traits and a more holistic (anthropological) approach are also important to derive a critically valid estimation of skeletal age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationForensic Anthropology
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical Framework and Scientific Basis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781119226529
ISBN (Print)9781119226383
StatePublished - Jan 24 2018


  • ADBOU software
  • Anatomy
  • Component scoring
  • Osteological paradox
  • Phase analysis
  • Skeletal age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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