Volume 40, Issue 5 (September 1995)
Should We Estimate Biological or Forensic Stature?
Trotter and Gleser's stature regression equations were derived from partly incorrect measurements of long bones and antemortem measured statures (MSTATs). Forensic anthropologists have applied these equations to correctly measured bones and compared resulting estimates to a forensic stature (FSTAT), usually obtained from a driver's license. Forensic anthropologists have also used Trotter and Gleser's standard error as a stature prediction range, despite published warnings that it is not wide enough for this purpose. The combination of these factors has resulted in inaccurate and unrealistically precise estimates of stature from the long bones. Several factors decrease the accuracy of measured statures, and a reanalysis of Trotter's data reveals that estimating a biological stature is more imprecise than previously supposed. For FSTATs, these estimates are inaccurate as well. Using data from the Forensic Data Bank, new regression equations for predicting FSTAT were calculated, and in some cases are more precise than regressions based on Trotter's data using MSTATs. Confidence intervals for a single prediction, or prediction intervals, were calculated and are superior to standard errors for providing a range for stature estimations.