Age estimation of immature human skeletal remains using the post-natal development of the occipital bone

Departamento de Medicina Legal e Ciências Forenses, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade do Porto, 4200-319, Porto, Portugal, .
Deutsche Zeitschrift für die Gesamte Gerichtliche Medizin (Impact Factor: 2.71). 01/2013; 127(5). DOI: 10.1007/s00414-013-0818-7
Source: PubMed


Whenever age cannot be estimated from dental formation in immature human skeletal remains, other methods are required. In the post-natal period, development of the skeleton provides alternative age indicators, namely, those associated with skeletal maturity of the cranium. This study wishes to document the age at which the various ossification centres in the occipital bone fuse and provide readily available developmental probabilistic information for use in age estimation. A sample of 64 identified immature skeletons between birth and 8 years of age from the Lisbon collection was used (females = 29, males = 35). Results show that fusion occurs first in the posterior intra-occipital synchondrosis and between the jugular and condylar limbs of the lateral occipital to form the hypoglossal canal (1-4 years), followed by the anterior intra-occipital (3-7 years). Fusion of the post-natal occipital does not show differences in timing between males and females. Relative to other published sources, this study documents first and last ages of fusion of several ossification centres and the posterior probabilities of age given a certain stage of fusion. Given the least amount of overlap in stages of fusion, the closure of the hypoglossal canal provides the narrowest estimated age with the highest probability of age.

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