Inferring Height
Your
upper leg contains a large, single bone called the femur.
This long bone stretches from the hip (pelvis) socket to the
kneecap (patella). The length of this bone can be used to
roughly estimate a person's height. To increase accuracy of
this bonetoheight relationship, you will also need to know
both the gender and race of the individual. These factors
affect the relationship between long bone length and the individual's
height.
OBJECTIVE
This
activity page will offer an experience in:

Metric measurement
 Obtaining
lengths of body parts
 Inferring
height from various long bone lengths
 Developing
bone/height relation charts
MATERIALS
 Metric ruler or tape measure
PROCEDURE
Part
1Inferring
Height from Femur Length
 Work with a partner. Identify the placement of your partner's
femur bone. It is the single large bone that extends from
the hip socket to the kneecap.
 Use a meter stick or measuring tape to determine the approximate
length of this bone (in centimeters).
 Multiple the length of the femur by 2.6.
 Add 65 to this number to arrive at the approximate height
of your partner in centimeters.
 Use a metric ruler to obtain the actual height of your
partner in centimeters.
 If you'd like to see these two numbers in inches, convert
this metric measurement by dividing by 2.54.
 Switch roles.
Analyzing
Your Results
 How accurate were you in inferring height from femur
length? Explain.
 Were factors such as gender and race taken into account
in this computation? Explain.
 How might the accuracy of this calculation be improved?
Part
2Inferring
Height from Humerus Length
 Work with a partner. Identify the placement of your partner's
humerus bone. It is the single large bone that extends from
the elbow to the shoulder socket.
 Use a meter stick or measuring tape to determine the approximate
length of this bone (in centimeters). If the bone comes
from a female subject, go to step 3. If the bone comes from
a male subject, go to step 5.
 If the bone comes from a male subject, go to step 5. 3.
If the bone comes from a female, multiply the measured length
in centimeters by 3.06.
 Add 64.26 to this number. This final number is the approximate
height of the female based upon her humerus length.
 If the bone comes from a male, multiply the measured length
in centimeters by 32.69.
 Add 59.41 to this number. This final number is the approximate
height of the male based upon his humerus length.
 Again, if you'd like to convert this numbers into inches,
divide the result by 2.54.
 Switch roles.
Analyzing
Your Results
 How accurate were you in inferring height from humerus
length? Explain.
 Were factors such as gender and race taken into account
in this computation? Explain.
 How might the accuracy of this calculation be improved?
Part
3Inferring
Height from Tibia Length
 Work with a partner. Identify the placement of your partner's
tibia bone. It is the larger central bone of the lower leg,
extending from just below the kneecap to the ankle.
 Use a meter ruler or measuring tape to determine the approximate
length of this bone (in centimeters).
 Use the chart below to estimate the height of your partner
based upon the tibia length. This regression chart uses
only three racial stocks, Caucasoid, Negroid and Mongoloid.
Caucasoid
male 
(2.42)

(tibia
length in centimeters) + 81.93 
Caucasoid
female 
(2.90)

(tibia
length in centimeters) + 61.53 
Negroid
male 
(2.19) 
(tibia
length in centimeters) + 85.36 
Negroid
female 
(2.45)

(tibia
length in centimeters) + 72.56 
Mongoloid
male 
(2.39)

(tibia
length in centimeters) + 81.45 
Mongoloid
female 
not
available 
NOTE:
Mongoloid is the major ethnic group that includes Chinese,
Japanese, Eskimos, Native Americans, Siberians, Malayans,
and Mongolians.
Analyzing
Your Results
 What was an advantage in using the tibia method for determining
height?
 What were the disadvantages for using the tibia method
for determining height?
 Were factors such as gender and race taken into account
in this computation? Explain.
EXTENSIONS
Two Bones Better Than One?
Here's another equation that can be used to infer height:
Height
= 1.31 (length of femur in centimeters + length of fibula
in centimeters) + 63.05
As
you can see, this calculation requires two bone length measurements,
the femur (upper leg bone) and the fibula (lower leg bone),
to arrive at this value. Compare and contrast the use of this
calculation with your previous estimation techniques.
Wrapping
It Up
Create lyrics to a song or rap that describes the relationship
between long bone length and height. Make sure that the words
include the names of specific bones and the calculations needed
to arrive at a height inference.
Compose
Your Own Regression
Select easily measured structures of your body (such as lower
arm, fingers, foot). Then compose a calculation that could
be used to infer a person's height from the length of these
body parts. Compare and contrast your regression to those
given for femur and humerus. Which is more accurate or consistent
in obtaining heights from part length?
WEB
CONNECTION
University
of North Texas Criminal Justice Department
Forensic Links
Age
and Stature Estimation
A wonderful site offered by Western Kentucky University
that offers all sorts of bone data regressions.
Introductory
Anatomy: Bones
An introduction to bones and anatomy with application
to forensics.
The
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusettsbased science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Wayland, MA
Suzanne Panico, Science Department, Fenway High School, Boston,
MA
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,
Wayland, MA
