Estimation of sex from metatarsals using discriminant function and logistic regression analyses

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world and the discovery of dismembered bodies for human identification process poses a greater challenge. The South African Africans (also known as South African blacks) population group is often the victims of crimes as they are the largest group. While measurements of several bones of the human skeleton have been used for sex estimation, the potential of metatarsals have not been explored in this population group. Metatarsal bones are usually well-preserved since they are recovered in shoes protected from scavengers and they are able to withstand environmental degradation and taphonomy. This study investigated the potential of measurements of metatarsals in sex estimate amongst South African Africans using logistic and discriminant function analysis. Six measurements of metatarsals from 100 individuals of known sex and population affinity from the Raymond Dart Collection of Human skeletons were analysed. Various combinations of measurements of metatarsal bones yielded suitably high average accuracies (79% to 84%) for sex estimation and are comparable to functions derived from other skeletal elements of South African Africans. Metatarsals of South African Africans are therefore useful as alternatives to highly sexual dimorphic bones in the forensic estimation of sex.