Morphological changes in the adult human skeleton have been recognized as useful for estimating the age at death. In the vertebral column, the development of osteophytes has been shown to be a general indicator of age, although substantial variation has been documented. The technique used for estimating age from osteophyte development is based exclusively on males and it is unknown whether patterns of osteophyte development are comparable between the sexes. This study examines sex differences in osteophyte development in the thoracic and lumbar regions of 384 individuals from the Terry Collection. Males and females in this sample show remarkably similar patterns of age-related changes in osteophyte development; however, females show greater variability in osteophyte stage for a given age. This was confirmed with age-matching a subsample of 128 individuals. Therefore, slightly larger confidence intervals should be used when assessing age from the vertebral column in females.
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