Anthropologists, pathologists and other scientists may soon have a new tool to work with when it comes to determining the age of deceased children based on their skeletal remains. Researchers in North Carolina have discovered that the frontal sinus of the skull undergoes distinct changes throughout childhood, and those changes can be matched up to approximate ages.
The scientists analyzed X-rays of almost 400 people of known ages, between infancy and 18 years old, in order to establish the different stages of development.
From here they were able to categorize different stages including less than six years old, between six and eight, between seven and ten, and between 12 and 18. In each stage, there are different skull developments.
“This is a proof-of-concept study demonstrating that frontal sinus X-rays offer a viable, noninvasive technique for estimating the age range of juvenile remains,” says Ross, who led the study. “This approach should be particularly valuable when working with incomplete remains.”
That said, the technique could also be used to ascertain the age of living children for which there are no birth records.
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