Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Timothy Gocha

Second Committee Member

Debra Martin

Third Committee Member

Brian Villmoare

Fourth Committee Member

Janet Dufek

Number of Pages



Traditional macroscopic methods for estimating age-at-death from human skeletal remains have been highly successful in practice but are notoriously inadequate when aging individuals over the age of 50 years. Skeletal histology has the potential to overcome these challenges to narrow the gap in age estimation and more accurately address older individuals.

Primary bone is produced during normal growth and development. Once fully matured, individuals undergo the lifelong process of remodeling wherein primary bone is replaced with microstructures called secondary osteons. As individuals age, the amount of primary bone tends to decrease. This study reexamined the use of percentage of primary bone as a predictor of age from the femoral midshaft of 30 modern cadaveric samples (15 males and 15 females) ranging in age from 21-97 years. The anterior, periosteal octant of the femoral midshaft was evaluated using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to investigate this trend. The data showed a statistically significant inverse relationship between percentage of non-remodeled (primary) bone and age-at-death. Regression analysis showed a linear relationship between the variables, accounting for 76% of the variability in age with a standard error of ±11.1 years.

These data were compared to previous studies (Maat et al. 2006) that investigated a smaller region of interest (ROI) and showed that increasing ROI size significantly improves its predictive power. These results were also compared to the most widely accepted histological predictor of age, Osteon Population Density (OPD). Linear regression analysis of OPD data previously obtained by Gocha (2014) revealed a strong correlation between OPD and age, explaining 83% of the variability in age with a standard error of ±9.2 years. Quantification of the percentage of non-remodeled bone however, requires less time and less training to implement than evaluating OPD and may be an adequate first step in histological analysis of age-at-death.


Age estimation; Bone histology; Bone remodeling; Geographic information systems; Osteons; Primary bone


Anatomy | Animal Structures | Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Tissues

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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