Volume 40, Issue 5 (September 1995)
The Measure and Mismeasure of the Tibia: Implications for Stature Estimation
Trotter and Gleser's stature estimation formulae, based on skeletons of the Terry collection and on WWII casualties, have been widely used in forensic work. Our work with the Terry and WWII data yielded tibia lengths too short compared to other data sets. Using Trotter's original measurements, we discovered that she consistently mismeasured the tibia. Contrary to standard practice and her own definitions, she omitted the malleolus from the measurement. Trotter's measurements of the tibia are 10 to 12 mm shorter than they should have been, resulting in stature estimations averaging 2.5 to 3.0 cm too great when the formulae are used with properly measured tibia.
We also examined tibia lengths of Korean War casualties, which were measured by technicians rather than by Trotter. Korean tibia measurements are also too short, but by a smaller amount than Terry and WWII. Since the Korean tibia are unavailable for restudy, it is unclear how they were measured.
Estimation of stature from Trotter and Gleser's tibia formulae is to be avoided if possible. If necessary, the 1952 formulae could be used with tibia measured in the same manner that Trotter measured, excluding the malleolus.