Body mass prediction from stature and bi-iliac breadth in two high latitude populations, with application to earlier higher latitude humans

Christopher Ruff, Markku Niskanen, Juho Anti Junno, Paul Jamison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Previous studies have indicated that body mass can be estimated from stature and bi-iliac (maximum pelvic) breadth with reasonable accuracy in modern humans, supporting the use of this method to estimate body mass in earlier human skeletal samples. However, to date the method has not been tested specifically on high latitude individuals, whose body form in some ways more closely approximates that of earlier higher latitude humans (i.e., large and broad-bodied). In this study, anthropometric data for 67 Alaskan Inupiat and 54 Finnish adults were used to test the stature/bi-iliac body mass estimation method. Both samples are very broad-bodied, and the Finnish sample is very tall as well. The method generally works well in these individuals, with average directional biases in body mass estimates of 3% or less, except in male Finns, whose body masses are systematically underestimated by an average of almost 9%. A majority of individuals in the total pooled sample have estimates to within ±10% of their true body masses, and more than three-quarters have estimates to within ±15%. The major factor found to affect directional bias is shoulder to hip breadth (biacromial/ bi-iliac breadth). Male Finns have particularly wide shoulders, which may in part explain their systematic underestimation. New body mass estimation equations are developed that include the new data from this study. When applied to a sample of earlier (late middle Pleistocene to early Upper Paleolithic) higher latitude skeletal specimens, differences between previous and new body estimates are small (less than 2%). However, because the Finns significantly extend the range of morphological variation beyond that represented in the original world-wide reference sample used in developing the method, thereby increasing its generality, it is recommended that these new formulas be used in subsequent body mass estimations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-392
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Body mass
  • High latitude
  • Skeletal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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