New methods for sex estimation using sternum and rib morphology

Smadar Peleg, Ruth Pelleg Kallevag, Gali Dar, Nili Steinberg, Youssef Masharawi, Hila May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sex estimation of skeletal remains is of great importance in the fields of physical and forensic anthropology. Since skeletons are often incomplete, it is essential to estimate sex from as many skeletal remains as possible. The aim of this study was to establish new methods for estimating sex using the morphology of the sternum and the fifth to ninth ribs. We considered two conditions of skeletal preservation: All skeletal elements measured are available, or only a single element is available. Traditional or virtual measurements were carried out on three samples: (1) A skeletal sample from the Hamann-Todd Human osteological collection, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, USA (N = 413), was used to create prediction equations for sex estimation. (2) A recent, CT-based sample from Israel (N = 33) was used to cross-validate the accuracy of the prediction equations. (3) A skeletal sample from the Anthropological Collection at Tel Aviv University (N = 15) was used to test the validity of the virtual measurements. Reliability and validity analyses were carried out via intraclass correlation coefficient analysis. Prediction equations for sex were created using logistic regression. The measurements were found to be highly reliable and valid. Success rates for sex estimation were high (> 80%) and correspond well between the skeletal and recent samples, especially for the left sixth, left eigth, and left ninth ribs. To conclude, measurements of the sternum and ribs are valuable for estimating sex and can be carried out using either traditional or virtual tools. Of all the skeletal elements examined in this study, the sternum, left sixth, left eighth, and left ninth ribs were found to be the most reliable skeletal elements for estimating the sex of an individual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1519-1530
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Prediction equation
  • Rib
  • Sex estimation
  • Sternum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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