Publication details

Testing the Reliability of Software Tools in Sex and Ancestry Estimation in a Multi-Ancestral Brazilian Sample



Year of publication 2014
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Legal Medicine
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Archaeology, anthropology, ethnology
Keywords Brazilian crania; Ancestry assessment; Sex assessment; FORDISC; 3D-ID
Description In the framework of forensic anthropology osteometric techniques are generally preferred over visual examinations due to a higher level of reproducibility and repeatability; qualities that are crucial within a legal context. The use of osteometric methods has been further reinforced by incorporating statistically-based algorithms and large reference samples in a variety of user-friendly software applications. However, the continued increase in admixture of human populations have made the use of osteometric methods for estimation of ancestry much more complex, which confounds one of major requirements of ancestry assessment – intra-population homogeneity. The present paper tests the accuracy of ancestry and sex assessment using four identification software tools, specifically FORDISC 2.0, FORDISC 3.1.293, COLIPR 1.5.2 and 3D-ID 1.0. Software accuracy was tested in a sample of 174 documented human crania of Brazilian origin composed of different ancestral groups (i.e., European Brazilians, Afro-Brazilians, and Japanese Brazilians and of admixed ancestry). The results show that regardless of the software algorithm employed and composition of the reference database, all methods were able to allocate approximately 50 percent of Brazilian specimens to an appropriate major reference group. Of the three ancestral groups, Afro-Brazilians were especially prone to misclassification. Japanese Brazilians, by contrast, were shown to be relatively easily recognizable as being of Asian descent but at the same time showed a strong affinity towards Hispanic crania, in particularly when the classification based on FDB was carried out in FORDISC. For crania of admixed origin all of the algorithms showed a considerable higher rate of inconsistency with a tendency for misclassification into Asian and American Hispanic groups. Sex assessments revealed an overall modest to poor reliability (60% to 71% of correctly classified specimens) using the tested software programs with unbalanced individual rates for males and females. The highest and atypically balanced rate of classification for sex assessment was provided by COLIPR software, which reached 78% of correctly assessed crania.

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