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Cranial suture closure and its implications for age estimation

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (Impact Factor: 0.95). 09/1994; 4(3):193 - 207. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1390040304

ABSTRACT Three age estimation techniques using ectocranial and/or endocranial suture closure are tested on a sample of known age from Spitalfields, London in order to determine the value of cranial suture closure as an indicator of age at death. The three techniques are those proposed by Acsádi and Nemeskéri, Meindl and Lovejoy and Perizonius. Results indicate that the Acsádi and Nemeskéri technique, which is based on endocranial sutures, can be used to distinguish young and middle-aged individuals in the Spitalfields sample but gives no information for crania over the age of 50 years. Age estimation using the Meindl and Lovejoy and Perizonius (Old system) techniques, which use ectocranial sutures, was found to be subject to a number of complicating factors, of which sexual dimorphism in the rate and pattern of closure is the most significant. A method of estimating age at death based on both endocranial and ectocranial suture closure is developed on the basis of the Spitalfields sample. The technique attempts to overcome some of the problems associated with both intra- and interpopulation variation in cranial suture closure. For a truly accurate age-estimation technique based on cranial suture closure we would need to know more about the causes and functions of suture closure in human populations.

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    • "The oldest and probably most controversial methods in skeletal age estimation are those based on the obliteration of cranial sutures. Several studies have investigated the reliability of these systems, and several revised methods have been used on different populations (Key et al., 1994; Perizonius, 1984) in the last decades, but their accuracy in overall use is still problematic. Moreover, many researchers have observed that ectocranial suture closure pattern in particular has an extreme variability, leading them to conclude that the methods based on them are inaccurate and problematic in determination of the age of skeletonized individuals (Brooks, 1955; Cray et al., 2011b; Hershkovitz et al., 1997; Powers, 1962; Sahni et al., 2005; Singer, 1953; Wolff et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The primary objective of this study was to perform new, relevant information about cranial suture closure in adults. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in targeted genes were examined, which encode factors that play an important role in cranial suture development and maintenance. Our hypothesis was that some of these genes and polymorphisms can influence the cranial suture obliteration status in adulthood as well. Ossification of cranial sutures was ascertained according to Meindl and Lovejoy's vault system (1985: Am J Phys Anthropol 68(1):57-66), and peripheral blood samples were collected during autopsy procedure of 106 individuals at the Department of Forensic and Insurance Medicine, Semmelweis University, Hungary. Genotyping of SNPs was conducted using competitive allele-specific polymerase chain reaction KASPar chemistry. Multivariate linear models were used to test whether SNP polymorphism of the investigated genes has a significant effect on the ectocranial suture synostosis in adults. The msh homeobox 1 (MSX1): rs3821947 polymorphism showed significant association with the extent of suture obliteration. Cranial suture closure in adults is a complex, multifactorial process. According to previous results MSX1 has a role in calvarial bone development and it has an effect on sutural mesenchyme in latter postnatal stages. Our results demonstrate MSX1 effects on suture obliteration in adulthood. These findings represent new, relevant information indicating that genetic background can have an impact on cranial suture closure in adults. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Human Biology 11/2013; 25(6). DOI:10.1002/ajhb.22459 · 1.93 Impact Factor
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    • "Molleson and Cox (1993) found that the technique under-aged older adults, while overageing younger individuals. Key et al. (1994) argued that Acsádi & Nemeskéri's (1970) endocranial suture technique was only able to broadly identify the young and old, but not specific ages, and the Meindl & Lovejoy (1985) ectocranial suture method was, again, found to be sexually biased. Given these identified shortcomings of cranial suture closure techniques, it is inadvisable to rely too heavily on such methodology, even when used in conjunction with dental attrition. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study assesses the current state of adult skeletal age-at-death estimation in biological anthropology through analysis of data published in recent research articles from three major anthropological and archaeological journals (2004–2009). The most commonly used adult ageing methods, age of ‘adulthood’, age ranges and the maximum age reported for ‘mature’ adults were compared. The results showed a wide range of variability in the age at which individuals were determined to be adult (from 14 to 25 years), uneven age ranges, a lack of standardisation in the use of descriptive age categories and the inappropriate application of some ageing methods for the sample being examined. Such discrepancies make comparisons between skeletal samples difficult, while the inappropriate use of some techniques make the resultant age estimations unreliable. At a time when national and even global comparisons of past health are becoming prominent, standardisation in the terminology and age categories used to define adults within each sample is fundamental. It is hoped that this research will prompt discussions in the osteological community (both nationally and internationally) about what defines an ‘adult’, how to standardise the age ranges that we use and how individuals should be assigned to each age category. Skeletal markers have been proposed to help physically identify ‘adult’ individuals. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 11/2011; 21(6):704 - 716. DOI:10.1002/oa.1179 · 0.95 Impact Factor
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    • "Described by Broca in 1875, it has since been tested extensively, although with the overall finding that even though there seems to be an age-related trend in the complete ossification of the sutures, seen as obliteration, this trend is perhaps more tenuous than for the other methods described above [7,16–19]. While it seems that there overall may be agerelated changes in terms of ossification and the degree of obliteration of the sutures, it has been difficult to develop unbiased and definite criteria for using the sutures in age determination [17] [18] [19] [20]. Synovial joints may also be used to evaluate age in the sense that the development of arthrosis may give an indication of age. "
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    ABSTRACT: Based on an actual case, where we were able to ascertain the year of birth of three dead babies found in a deep-freezer to within 1-2 years (1986, 1988 and 2004, respectively), we review the current state of forensic age determination/year of birth determination. The age of an individual (year of birth) is often a fundamental piece of data in connection with forensic identification of unidentified bodies. The methods most often used are based on determining various morphological, age-related, changes on the skeleton (or teeth, although odontological methods are not reviewed in this paper). As such, these methods are all relative, i.e. they do not furnish calendar ages or years, but an estimate of the age at death, with a rather large range, i.e. the methods rely on biological aging following the chronological aging. More recently, methods have been proposed using more direct ascertainment of age at death, e.g. protein racemisation, or, as in our case, radiocarbon methods. Especially the latter method may in fact yield absolute ages (years of birth), because (14)C activity, as measured in specific proteins in specific cells or tissues in the body, were in equilibrium with the so-called bomb-pulse, when these proteins were formed (at birth). The bomb pulse reflects a dramatic change in atmospheric (14)C content due to nuclear bomb testing, and these dramatic changes can be rather tightly related to single calendar years.
    Forensic science international 09/2010; 201(1-3):74-8. DOI:10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.03.026 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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