Male and female skeletons have some little differences between them. While some are very hard to notice, some just take a single look.
You probably won’t have to see many skeletons in your daily life, but distinguishing which gender they belong to is a curious trivium, and can be useful if you actually want to follow a career related to identifying corpses. Of course, if a body is fleshy, you won’t really need to take many looks to determine what was between that person’s legs.
Before we even start, keep in mind that no method is 100% accurate. This means that, even if highly reliable, any identification feature can be there due to other reasons, such as diseases or environmental causes. These also explain how something may not be there, leading you into false conclusions. It is good to know however that even non-experts can often have a success identification rate of around 90%, given an entire skeleton.
The skeleton itself
Needless to say, not all skeletons have the requirements to be properly gender-recognised. This can only be done in teenagers and adults, because that younger people haven’t developed the secondary sexual features which provide great help. Also, the more bones there are available, the easier and more accurate it will be. However, it’s not all quantity over quality, as there are some body areas that provide much better information.
The better spots
The two most efficient, reliable body parts to identify a skeleton’s gender are the skull and the pelvis. Here the differences are great and noticeable, but this means they reach some complexity.
- Skull: the skull is composed by the cranium and the face, which together add up to 22 bones (there are also 6 bones in the ears, not included in this count). These vary in size and shape slightly, depending on the gender.
-In the back of the head lies the occipital bone, the curved bowl-like bone which protects the corresponding brain underneath it. Its shape, however, isn’t that of a perfect bowl, but shows a protuberance, a small cone that extends backwards to the exterior. These small mountain becomes handy now, since it is larger and more pronunciated in men. In females, the occipital bone is almost plain, while in the males the elevation is clearly visible. In the following picture the occipital bone is seen from behind, resulting in the protuberance not being possible to notice. Two other bones feature in the image, the atlas and the axis, the respective first and second cervical vertebrae of the human body. The “cervical” simply refers to the seven vertebrae in the neck.