Male or Female?
How do investigators and scientists tell if a bone or skeleton belongs to a man or a woman? The clues lie in the bones themselves.
A skeleton's overall size and sturdiness give some clues. Within the same population, males tend to have larger, more robust bones and joint surfaces, and more bone development at muscle attachment sites. However, the pelvis is the best sex-related skeletal indicator, because of distinct features adapted for childbearing. The skull also has features that can indicate sex, though slightly less reliably.
The differences between a male and female pelvis are compared below.
- Male: narrower, heart-shaped
- Female: open, circular
- Male: narrower
- Female: broader
- Male: narrower sub-pubic angle where the two bones meet
- Female: wider sub-pubic angle where the two bones meet
- Female: more outwardly flared
- Sex-related skeletal features are not obvious in children's bones. Subtle differences are detectable, but they become more defined following puberty and sexual maturation.
For more details, see this document: