Volume 45, Issue 5 (September 2000)
Age Estimation from Sternal Ends of Ribs by Phase Analysis in South African Blacks
The sternal ends of ribs are used in age determination of unknown adult remains. Standards for American populations have been described and tested. The method described by Íşcan et al. is reviewed and compared with other age markers of the human skeleton. Three hundred and thirty-nine (265 male, 74 female) sternal ends of right fourth ribs, belonging to black individuals deceased in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, were collected during 1994, 1995, and 1996. Three South African investigators applied the existing method and found the repeatability among them acceptable, although the method was less accurate to predict age in this population. New phases with adjusted criteria and age ranges were developed specifically for the South African black population. A tendency toward delayed maturation was found, as well as a diversion of the appearance of female ribs perimenopausally. Future studies involving more individuals in the older age ranges, and females of all ages, could broaden the representativeness of these phases.