Volume 40, Issue 5 (September 1995)
Allometric Secular Change in the Long Bones from the 1800s to the Present
Allometric secular changes in the six long limb bones for White and Black males from the mid 1800s to the present are examined. Long bone lengths are available from the Terry collection and WWII casualties. We conducted two types of analysis to reveal secular changes. First, allometry scaling coefficients were derived by regressing log bone length onto log stature. These showed that the femur, tibia and fibula were positively allometric with stature, while the humerus, radius and ulna were isometric. The lower limb bones were more positively allometric in the WWII sample than in the Terry sample.
Second, secular changes in length of femur and tibia and in the tibia/femur ratio were evaluated, using modern forensic cases in addition to the Terry and WWII samples. This analysis shows that secular increase in lower limb bone length is accompanied by relatively longer tibiae. Secular changes in proportion may render stature formulae based on nineteenth century samples, such as the Terry collection, inappropriate for modern forensic cases. The positive allometry of the lower limb bones argues against using simple femur/stature ratio, which assumes constant proportionality, as an alternative to regression equations.