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Hand dimensions as predictive tools in gender determination: a Nigerian study

ABSTRACT: Introduction: Forensic anthropology deals with crime investigation, as such; detection and gender determination are key aspects in the medico-legal field. Gender is vital in personal identification; however this is difficult in cases of mass disasters, explosions, and assaults where the body is dismembered or mutilated. The study aims to seek a reliable, quick and easy anthropometric method to confirm the identity of victims using only the hand. Material and Methods: This cross sectional descriptive study was carried out on 384 student volunteers of Delta State University, Abraka. The sample consisted of 192 males and females of Nigerian decent to the second generation, aged between 18-30 years. The hand lengths, breadths and indices as well as the index finger lengths (IFL), ring finger lengths (RFL) and ratios were estimated only on right handed subjects using standard techniques. Results: The mean hand dimensions and indices were statistically longer in males than females (p < 0.05). Similarly mean index and ring finger lengths were significantly longer in males than females (p < 0.05) but not between the right and left hands (p > 0.05). However, there was no significant differences in the index, ring finger ratios between gender and side of the body (p > 0.05). Hand lengths and breadths were the greatest predictors of gender, followed by index and ring finger lengths. Conclusion: This study has demonstrated that hand dimensions can be very useful predictive tools in gender determination in medico-legal examination.

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