My research involves ancestry determination from the craniofacial skeleton using Geometric Morphometric Methods and 3D shape analysis. Ancestry determination is a key aspect in establishing a biological profile of unknown human remains. Most methods for determining ancestry involve using qualitative or non-metric techniques, which are performed through visual examination of the overall shape and features of certain bones, primarily those of the skull, and especially those that make up the facial region.
The quantification of these craniofacial shape differences is extremely important as it provides a less subjective method for studying craniofacial change than the non-metric morphological techniques that are usually employed. Traditional metric methods are based on distance measurements between particular points of interest. Although these metric methods are more objective, they tend to exclude significant information about the overall shape and regional complexity of the human cranial form. The distance between different points being measured does not necessarily adequately analyze the overall shape of a particular feature or area. It is suggested that the use of Geometric Morphometric Methods of statistical shape analysis focussed specifically on those areas of the skull used in non-metric analysis will allow for greater precision and accuracy of ancestry assessment. My project uses conventional cranial landmarks and semi-landmarks on 3D surfaces, and will provide a more precise and detailed examination of craniofacial variation, integrating both metric and non-metric morphological assessment methods and improving the overall accuracy in determining ancestral affiliation.