Accuracy and sampling error of two age estimation techniques using rib histomorphometry on a modern sample

Julieta G. García-Donas (Lead / Corresponding author), Jeffrey Dyke, Robert R. Paine, Despoina Nathena, Elena F. Kranioti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
241 Downloads (Pure)


Most age estimation methods are proven problematic when applied in highly fragmented skeletal remains. Rib histomorphometry is advantageous in such cases; yet it is vital to test and revise existing techniques particularly when used in legal settings (Crowder and Rosella, 2007). This study tested Stout & Paine (1992) and Stout et al. (1994) histological age estimation methods on a Modern Greek sample using different sampling sites. Six left 4th ribs of known age and sex were selected from a modern skeletal collection. Each rib was cut into three equal segments. Two thin sections were acquired from each segment. A total of 36 thin sections were prepared and analysed. Four variables (cortical area, intact and fragmented osteon density and osteon population density) were calculated for each section and age was estimated according to Stout & Paine (1992) and Stout et al. (1994). The results showed that both methods produced a systemic underestimation of the individuals (to a maximum of 43 years) although a general improvement in accuracy levels was observed when applying the Stout et al. (1994) formula. There is an increase of error rates with increasing age with the oldest individual showing extreme differences between real age and estimated age. Comparison of the different sampling sites showed small differences between the estimated ages suggesting that any fragment of the rib could be used without introducing significant error. Yet, a larger sample should be used to confirm these results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Early online date25 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Age estimation
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Rib histomorphometry
  • Sampling error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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