Semester of Graduation

Spring 2022


Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Anthropology

Document Type



Today, forensic anthropologists utilize components of the biological profile, such as biological sex and ancestry, in hopes of contributing to identifying a decedent. Though researchers currently understand the race concept's harmful origins and impacts on marginalized populations, ancestry classification inevitably mirrors racial categorizations. Alternatively, population affinity research investigates population formation through a biohistorical and biocultural approach that thoroughly investigates human variation within diverse American populations.

The current study includes such data in assessing the maxillary sinus to discern whether population affinity differences are present and why. The left and right maxillary sinus' volume and dimensions (maximum height, length, width, and surface area) were examined using 3D modeling of computerized tomography (CT) scans. The sample was selected from a modern New Mexico population and included 90 individuals who identify socially or culturally as Black (n=30), White (n=30), and Hispanic (n=30). ANOVA, Post-Hoc Testing, T-Tests, and classification testing were performed to determine potential biological sex and populational group differences from the measured data. Additionally, a biocultural and biohistorical analysis of the data was performed that investigates the specific history of New Mexico and its population’s demographic distribution.

Results of this study showed minor overall differences in maxillary dimensions between population groups and biological sexes; these results are potentially due to gene flow, sociocultural, and migration events within New Mexico. Classification rates were lower than 65% for biological sex and population group determination. The implication for this study ultimately challenges traditional ancestry and or race classifications for this trait in New Mexico and shows that human variation is complex due to biohistorical and biocultural events. While other skeletal traits might be a better determinant of ancestry, there still should be a more thorough investigation. Moreover, population affinity research should be implemented in other regions of the United States to understand human variation expression across populations.

Committee Chair

Listi, Ginesse A.



Available for download on Thursday, April 05, 2029