This is the 2nd blog post in this Quick Tips series on estimating the biological sex of human skeletal remains. If you haven’t read the first post on the basics of sexing skeletal remains, click here to start at the beginning.
One of the most widely used methods of sexing skeletal remains is by examining the skull. The skull has five different features that are observed and scored. The five features are the:
- Nuchal crest.
- Mastoid process.
- Supraorbital Margin.
- Supraorbital Ridge.
- Mental Eminence.
Each of these markers is given a numerical score from 1 to 5 relating to the level of expression, with 1 being minimal expression and 5 being maximal expression. Each feature should be scored independently, and without influence from the other identifying features. It has been generally found that female skulls are more likely to have a lower level of expression in all features, whereas male skulls are more likely to have higher levels of expression.
To observe the nuchal crest, one should view the skull from its lateral profile and feel for thesmoothness (1-minimal expression) or ruggedness (5-maximal expression) of the occipital surface, and compare it with the scoring system of that feature (Figure 2).