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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-29

Measurement of metric and nonmetric parameters for determining the gender of the human mandible

1 Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CoMHS), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Sohar, Sultanate of Oman
2 >Fellow Professor, Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine, West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, United States
3 Professor, Medical Education, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, Sohar, Sultanate of Oman

Date of Submission01-Sep-2021
Date of Decision13-Oct-2021
Date of Acceptance20-Nov-2021
Date of Web Publication01-Feb-2022

Correspondence Address:
Anil Kumar
Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CoMHS), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Postal Address Al Tareef, Post Box No.391, Postal Code 321, Sohar
Sultanate of Oman
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/NJCA.NJCA_112_21

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Background: In humans, the mandible is the longest, densest, and most robust facial bone. It displays a high degree of phenotypic variation between sexes and is resistant to postmortem trauma. Measures of male and female mandibles were quantified in this study along with nonmetric and metric parameters to determine the gender. Methodology: In this retrospective observational study, 96 mandibles (55 males and 41 females) were evaluated for gender through the measurement of 15 metric and 5 nonmetric parameters. Results: A significant correlation between nonmetric variables of the squared chin (85.54%), prominent muscle markings (74.54%), everted gonial flares (94.54%), and triangular coronoid processes (81.81%) was found. Females, by contrast, tended to have a rounded chin (68.49%), a less prominent muscle marking (53.6%), an inverted gonial flare (95.54%), and a hooked shape coronoid process (80.48%). All metric mandible parameters were determined, evaluated, and statistically analyzed in SPSS to determine whether gender had a relationship with the mandibles. Conclusion: Various metric and nonmetric criteria, in addition to existing methods, can be used to determine the gender of a person's mandible.

Keywords: Mandible, mandibular ramus, morphology, morphometry, sexual dimorphism

How to cite this article:
Kumar A, Klinkhachorn PS, Mohammed CA. Measurement of metric and nonmetric parameters for determining the gender of the human mandible. Natl J Clin Anat 2022;11:22-9

How to cite this URL:
Kumar A, Klinkhachorn PS, Mohammed CA. Measurement of metric and nonmetric parameters for determining the gender of the human mandible. Natl J Clin Anat [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 22];11:22-9. Available from: http://www.njca.info/text.asp?2022/11/1/22/337039

  Introduction Top

Identification of individuals from skeletal remains requires the determination of sex, one of the most important steps in forensic anthropology. Discrete traits such as nonmetric features, anthropometric data, or molecular methods can be used to determine a person's gender. The benefit of metric methodology is that the results can be easily correlated to those of other researchers.[1] The anatomy and metrical structures of the skull and mandible, soft tissues, forensic odontology, and DNA analysis of teeth can also be used to assess the gender of an unidentified person.[2]

Forensic scientists face a difficult task when determining a person's sex using skeletal remains, especially when only a portion of the body is available.[3] The pelvis and skull are the most accurate factors of sex determination in bone fragments. When the pelvis is missing, the mandible becomes an essential source of sex identification.[4] The mandible is the most resilient of the facial bones, retaining its form better than the rest. Its phenotypical characteristics change with age, sex, and race.[5] Various studies comparing different populations show significant sexual dimorphism in mandibular morphology between genders and intrapopulation.[6]

Dental records are often used to identify and determine the gender of victims of fires, wars, plane crashes, and earthquake events. When dental records are not available, sex determination of unknown mandibles is done using standard size procedures, making muscular markings inaccurate.[7]

Even in archaeological contexts, the mandible represents a reliable skeletal resistance to environmental conditions since it is usually well preserved.[8],[9] The maturation rate and growth pattern occur earlier in females than males; therefore, the sexual difference may manifest in the skull and mandible of females earlier than males. Some factors influence the growth and development of craniofacial dimensions, such as ecological, racial, age and sex, and genetic factors.[10],[11] Many researchers opined that mandible shows variation in identification parameters. Variations in the shape and size of the phenotypic marks are used to determine sex. Franklin et al. noted that the dimensions of the male mandible are considerably larger and longer, especially body than female. Furthermore, male mandibles typically have squarer chins and thicker, rougher muscle attachments than female mandibles.[12] The mandible gonial angle and antegonial area are significant indicators that are affected by sex, age, and oral health. The mandibular ramus also demonstrated that it could be used in forensic research to determine sex.[13] There are variations in the mandible according to sex, age, and race, which can be helpful to the physicians, surgeons, medico-legal authorities, and anthropologists to give precise explanations for the outcomes of diagnostic processes in the living.[1]

The analysis of the mandible bone is crucial in identifying differences between groups in various populations. The present analysis was performed to find morphometric parameters and morphological parameters to analyze different mandible dimensions in the Western population. The use of both is likely to enhance the ability and precision for the determination of sex. This analysis can help offer anthropological evidence that can be applied to dental and medical services.

  Materials and Methods Top

This study involved 96 unsexed, dried human mandibles obtained from the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences (COMHS). The samples were supplied by West Virginia University (WVU), Health Sciences Center, Morgantown, United States of America. Ninety-six dried human mandibles were considered for the morphometric evaluation. We used convenience sampling which is nonprobability sampling based on “convenient” sources of data for researchers. The study was approved by the Ethics and Biosafety Committee (EBC), COMHS (in academic partnership with WVU), and the registration number is NU/COMHS/EBC0016/2021.

Inclusion criteria: all well-developed adult mandibles with intact bilateral molars, prominent alveolar sockets, intact condylar or chin processes, and well-developed condyles were included in the study.

Exclusion criteria: damaged, mutilated, deformed or edentulous mandibles were excluded.

Morphological indicators

Mandibular sex was determined using anatomical characteristics such as chin shape, muscle markings, gonial flare, mandibular surface, and coronoid process.

All the mandibles included in the study were evaluated for metric and nonmetric parameters following Krogman[14] criteria. Based on nonmetric morphometric evaluations, the sex of the mandibles were determined.

Nonmetric morphometric parameters

There are five observed morphological parameters in these specimens:[11]

  1. Shape of the chin
  2. Gonial flare
  3. Muscle markings
  4. Angle of mandible
  5. Thickness of the coronoid process.

Following fifteen metric morphometric parameters were evaluated:[9],[15],[16]

  1. Maximum breadth of ramus – The line joining the posterior most point of the condyles with the anterior most point of the mandibular ramus[Figure 1]a
  2. Minimum breadth of ramus – Its smallest width, measured parallel to its height [Figure 1]b
  3. Condylar height – The distance between the tubercle, or most protruding part of the inferior border of the ramus mandible, and the most superior location on the mandibular condyle [Figure 1]c
  4. Symphyseal height – The distance between the inferior boundary of the mandible and the alveolar process perpendicular to the base of the alveolar process at the stage of symphysis menti [Figure 1]d
  5. Coronoid breadth – In the two coronoid process, the distance between the side by side points [Figure 1]e
  6. Body thickness – In a plane perpendicular to the body's longitudinal axis, body thickness is the thickness of the bone at the foramen mentum [Figure 1]f
  7. Maximum height of ramus – The distance between the mandibular condyle's peak and the gonion [Figure 2]a
  8. Coronoid height – An estimated distance between the coronion and the lower wall of a bone [Figure 2]b
  9. Bigonial breadth – A straight line separating two gonia's [Figure 2]c
  10. Mandibular length – Along the back of the two mandibular angles runs a gap between the anterior margin of the chin and the middle point of the covered straight line [Figure 2]d
  11. Bimental breadth: the distance between two mental foramina at their inner margins over the bone [Figure 2]e.
  12. Bicondylar breadth – A distance that corresponds to the distance between the lateral points of each of the two condyles [Figure 2]f
  13. Length of lower jaw – It measures the straight line distance between the tangent at the two gonia and the margin of the chin [Figure 2]g
  14. Mandibular body height – The difference between the inferior boundary of the mandible and the alveolar process at the level of the mental foramen [Figure 2]h
  15. Mandibular index (Thomson criteria)[17] – Length of lower jaw/bicondylar breadth X 100.
Figure 1: The various variables of morphometric parameters: (a) Maximum breadth of the ramus, (b) minimum breadth of the ramus, (c) condylar height, (d) symphyseal height, (e) coronoid breadth, (f) body thickness

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Figure 2: The various variables of morphometric parameters: (a) Height of the ramus, (b) coronoid height, (c) bigonial breadth, (d) mandibular length, (e) bimental breadth, (f) bicondylar breadth, (g) length of lower jaw, (h) body height

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The parameters were measured on the right side of the mandibles (the dominant side). The precision was 0.01 mm using a sliding Vernier caliper, and values were taken up to a two decimal place. To eliminate an interobserver or intraobserver error, two well-experienced researchers conducted all the measurements.

Statistical analysis

Nonmetric parameters

Significance analysis was conducted based on nonmetric characteristics used to determine sex. The relationship between morphological characteristics and sex was tested using an independent Student's t-test.

Metric parameters

Statistical evaluation of quantitative data was performed using IBM SPSS Statistics 21 (IBM Corp. Released 2013. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 21.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp). Using an unpaired t-test, we assessed the association between the morphometric variation of the mandible and sex. The significance level was set at P ≤ 0.05. Based on the ranges of each parameter, we calculated means and standard deviations for both genders. These values were used to determine the “calculated range” by using the formula “mean ± 3 standard deviations”. According to the calculations, the male range is from 'a to b' while the female range is from 'c to d'. Values of 'a' (the minimum in the male range) and 'd' (the maximum in the female range) were chosen as 'demarking points'. The limiting point is determined by finding an absolute value within both ranges. Choosing the limiting point was such that a great many male mandibles had values greater than it and most female mandibles had values less than it. Hence, the limiting points allowed far more mandibles to be identified when compared to demarking points.

  Results Top

Morphological (nonmetric) parameters

According to the Chi-square test, males predominantly tend to have squared chins (85%), prominent muscle markings (75%), and everted gonial flares (94%), whereas females mostly had pointed chins (68%), less prominent muscle marking (53%), and inverted gonial flare (39%) [Table 1] and [Graph 1]. Using an independent t-test, males and females show a significant difference [Table 1].
Table 1: Descriptive analysis of nonmetric parameters to differentiate the sex of the mandibles (n=96)

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Morphometric (metric) parameters

[Table 2] illustrates the mean differences between males and females based on measurements of morphometric (metric) parameters. Using Student's t-test, this difference is highly significant for all parameters except those related to the mandibular index and bimental breadth of the mandible. The standard deviation is also higher in males for all the above parameters denoting that males show greater variability as compared to females. It is an extension of sex-determining values for metric traits.
Table 2: Descriptive analysis of various metric parameters in males and females' mandibles

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The demarcating points, as well as the limiting values, are summarized in [Table 3]. As a result of choosing this limiting point, many male mandibles had values that were higher than it, whereas most female mandibles had values that were lower. Therefore, when we used the limiting point instead of the demarking point, we could detect a much higher percentage of mandibles identification.
Table 3: Descriptive analysis of demarcating points and limiting values for metric parameters

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  Discussion Top

The anatomy of mandibles differs significantly between ethnicities, races, and sexual orientations. Sex determination relies heavily on morphological and morphometric characteristics of the human mandible.[18],[19] The ability of the observer to understand and interpret morphological traits greatly influences sex determination. A person's diet, lifestyle, and environment can influence the morphometric parameters.[20] The morphometric parameters are considered more objective and reproducible than the other variables. For this study, the mandible was measured morphometrically and morphologically to reduce error in determining sex.

A male's mandible is typically larger, has a more muscular attachment point, and is significantly stronger than a female. Our results show that males have everted gonial flares and triangular-shaped condylar processes. Males also show square jaw shapes and more prominent muscle markings. In females, the condylar process is inverted, oval, and less obvious, and the hook shape is significantly different than in males [Table 1]. Several previous studies have reported similar observations.[14],[21],[22] Women have different musculoskeletal systems than men, which may explain the difference in their skeletal formation. In addition to lifestyle, eating habits, ethnicity, and geography, the shape and size of the mandible can be affected by several factors.[15],[23] Lower testosterone levels can also cause changes in the face since testosterone increases muscle and bone mass. Moreover, mandible development is significantly different between males and females. Due to their later puberty, males develop their skulls and mandibles more rapidly.[24],[25] A higher level of morphometric (metric) parameters was observed in males than in females in the current study. The present study is more precise by using liming values. A technique's efficacy and credibility can be predicted by the percentage of sex correctly defined through limiting value.

Ranganath et al. reported that the mean value and standard deviation of maximum ramus breadth were 3.88 ± 0.52 cm in males and 4.07 ± 0.54 cm in females, whereas the mean value and standard deviation for minimum ramus breadth were 3.17 ± 0.48 cm 0.48 in males and 3.11 ± 0.38 cm in females.[26] In the study of Thai population, Ongkana and Sudwan studied data on 102 mandibles, showing that the mean value and standard deviation of minimum ramus breadth for male mandible were 3.28 ± 0.34 cm in males and 3.14 ± 0.31 cm in females, respectively.[22] In our study, the mean value and standard deviation of the maximum ramus breadth of mandible were found to be 2.97 ± 1.09 cm in males and 2.88 ± 1.04 cm in females, whereas the minimum ramus breadth of mandible was found to be 2.53 ± 0.62 cm in males and 2.05 ± 0.25 cm in females. The difference between the two sexes using the Student's t-test was significant for both the parameters [Table 2]. These parameters agreed with previous authors Vinay et al. and Datta.[2],[19]

We found a significant correlation between condylar height and gender in our study [Table 2], consistent with Jyothsna et al.'s findings for male condylar height in their study determining gender by condylar height. The mean and standard deviation of mandible condylar height in males and females, respectively, were 4.97 ± 1.49 cm and 4.54 ± 1.35 cm each.[27] Buschang et al. studied incremental growth charts to explain condylar height.[28]

Among adults, Deepak et al. determined that males have a maximum ramus height of 6.0 ± 0.52 cm, whereas females have a mean of 5.08 ± 0.38 cm.[29] In Datta research, the male ramus was 67.98 ± 4.40 mm and the female ramus was 55.10 ± 5.33 mm.[2] The maximum ramus height was 4.99 ± 0.94 cm in males and 4.01 ± 1.57 cm in females in the present study [Table 2]. Furthermore, the difference between male and female mandible is statistically significant, just like in previous studies. A study conducted by De Villiers in South African concluded that male rami were more dimorphic than female rami, and that gender differences in rami were greater than those in bodies.[30] According to Humphrey et al., the mandibular ramus and condyle are the most dimorphic areas as they were the most affected by size and renovation during the development process.[31] Franklin et al. showed that the ramus and condyles of the mandible were its most dimorphic areas.[12] Our findings echoed theirs [Table 2]. In the Croatian archaeological sample, maximum ramus width, minimum ramus width, and maximum ramus height were significantly associated with gender differentiation.[16]

Kumar and Lokanadham discovered that the mean coronoid breadth for males was 9.53 cm, and for females, it was 9.13 cm.[32] A study of 102 mandibles by Ongkana and Sudwan revealed the mean height of a coronoid for males and females to be 6.48±0.5 cm and 5.98±0.58 cm, respectively.[22] Our study revealed similar results. Coronoid breadth was 6.24 cm in female mandibles and 7.09 cm in male mandibles [Table 2].

The current study reported that the coronoid height of males was 4.40 ± 1.57 cm, whereas in females, it was 3.94 ± 1.35 cm. Men and women had significantly different coronoid heights in their mandibles [Table 2]. Saini et al. reported that the best predictor of accuracy in a study morphometric traits of mandible was the coronoid heights.[15] In another study, Rinki et al. found that males had a mean coronoid height of 62.28 ± 5.41 mm and females 56.88 ± 4.80 mm.[33]

As determined by Ozer et al., women's mandibular body height measured 30 ± 2.97 mm and men's reached 29.15 ± 4.82 mm.[34] Vodanovic et al. determined this value as 29.96 ± 1.21 mm for males and 31.68 ± 2.6 mm for females.[16] The present study reported that the mean mandibular body height in the male sample was 2.12 ± 0.62 cm and in the female sample was 1.63 ± 0.86 cm [Table 2].

Kumar and Lokanadham established that females' mandible body thickness was 14.60 ± 1.35 mm, whereas males' mandible body thickness was 14.60 ± 1.35 mm.[32] Ozer et al. reported that the average mandible thickness of males was 1.28 ± 0.46 cm, whereas in females, it was 1.08 ± 0.41 cm.[34] Seshaiah found it easier to have gender identification, with the mandibles having the greater height.[35] In addition, the present study also found that larger body size and height affected sex. Both genders had statistically significant body thickness and mandibular height [Table 2].

The symphyseal height for males in the current sample was 2.17 ± 0.88 cm, whereas for females, it was 1.72 ± 0.77 cm. Men and women had statistically significant differences in symphyseal height [P ≤ 0.05; [Table 2]]. According to the previous studies we have seen thus far, males tend to have a greater mandibular symphyseal height. This seems to be true based on our observations thus far. As a result of their larger chins and shape, the symphyseal height of men is typically higher. Late in life, lower facial development may also result in dimorphism.[36],[37]

During tests on 207 mandibles by Jayakaran et al., the mean bicondylar width of males was 11.26 ± 0.53 cm whereas that of females was 10.77 ± 0.53 cm.[38] The mean bicondylar breadth of male mandibles was found to be 10.98 ± 1.48 cm, whereas the average for female mandibles was 11.51 ± 0.93 cm, reported by Ranganath et al.[26] Vinay et al. found 250 mandibles during their study. The bicondylar breadth of female mandibles was 10.82 cm whereas that of male mandibles was 11.34 cm.[19] Ongkana and Sudwan examined 102 mandibles from people living in northern Thailand and found the mean bicondylar breadth measures 12.38 and 0.63 cm, whereas the female measures 11.61 and 0.59 cm.[22] In our sample, male and female mandible bicondylar breadth were 11.29 and 1.31 cm, respectively [Table 2]. Due to variations in cranial base lengthening, lateral expansion patterns, and muscular activity, this region (bicondylar breadth) exhibits gender differences. Mihai et al. go on to explain that this effect also happens as girls grow up.[8]

Jayakaran et al. reported that bigonial breadth is also an explanation for sex dimorphism. As a result of their study with 207 mandibles, Jayakaran et al. found that the mean for mandible size of males was 9.38 ± 0.54 cm whereas that for females was 8.71 ± 0.48 cm.[38] In a study carried out by Ranganath et al., the mean bigonial breadth of male and female mandibles was 8.68 ± 1.37 cm and 8.62 ± 0.72 cm, respectively.[26] Using 250 mandibles, Vinay et al. in their study found that the mean value of bigonial breadth for males was 9.45 ± 0.53 cm, whereas the average value for females was 8.74 ± 0.54 cm.[19] According to the previous authors' finding, the current study mean value of bigonial breadth of male mandibles was 6.82 ± 1.34 cm, whereas in female mandibles, it was 6.62 ± 1.77 cm. Males' strong muscle activity causes the gonial area to flare, resulting in a facial width at the angle region, a prominent dimorphic characteristic of the mandible.[8]

Mandibular length was also evaluated, and measurements were higher for males in all studies. Ongkana and Sudwan found the mandibular length to be 8.94 mm in males and 8.53 mm in females of Thai origin.[22] Similar values were reported by Vinay et al. in the Indian population, who found the male measurements to be 8.81 mm and female measurements to be 6.22 mm for mandibular length.[19] Jayakaran et al., in their series of 207 mandibles, found that the mean of mandibular length for male mandible was 7.44 ± 0.41 cm, whereas for female mandible, it was 7.06 ± 0.41 cm.[38] Ranganath et al., in their study on 111 mandibles, showed that the mean mandibular angle in males was 6.78 ± 0.94 cm, whereas for females, it was 6.63 ± 0.76 cm.[26] In the present study, the mean value of the mandibular length was found to be 5.28 ± 1.32 cm in males, whereas it was 5.22 ± 1.56 cm in females [Table 2]. The current study found a statistically significant difference between male and female mandibles, almost identical to previous research.

It was found that the lower jaw of the sample differed from the mandibles found in known sexes according to Pillai et al. Hence, the lower jaw was not considered when determining sex. This study did find a statistically significant relationship between female and male mandible values.[37] Our study found that males had a mean lower jaw length of 4.31 ± 1.06 cm, whereas females had a mean lower jaw length of 4.24 ± 1.53 cm [Table 2].

The demarking point for males was greater than 6.95 whereas that for females was <6.21. In this study, the males had an index of 6.42, whereas the females had an index of 7.72. Our analysis found that males had mandibular indexes of 3.80 ± 1.22 cm, whereas females had 3.92 ± 1.68 cm [Graph 2]. In [Table 2], the mean value of the mandibular index is not statistically significantly different between females and males (P = 0.13). Vinay et al. found that the mean mandibular index for males was 66.52 ± 4.42 mm, whereas it was 66.41 ± 5.69 mm for females.[19] The mandibular index values in males and females were not statistically significantly different in terms of mean values [Table 2].

Kranioti et al. found that the male and female Greek mandible had an average bimental width of 44.55 and 43.82 mm, respectively, but it was not statistically significant.[39] Similarly, our study showed 3.06 ± 0.45 cm for males and 2.64 ± 0.42 cm for females, with no significant difference between the two [Table 2], whereas Datta, Kumar, and Lokanadham, and Pillai et al. determined that the males and females had statistically significant bimental mandible breadths.[2],[32],[37]

Anatomic specialists, anthropologists, and maxillofacial surgeons can benefit from having morphological and morphometric information about the mandible to deliver anthropological and surgical data that might be useful in medico-legal and dental procedures. The model needs to be validated and compared with similar parameters studied in a larger sample size in different contexts.

Limitation of study

Metric measurements and indices differ across the world due to regional, geographic, and environmental factors. As a limitation, no biological data were available regarding age, gender, and ancestry.

  Conclusion Top

Using various metrical and nonmetrical parameters, the study concludes that the mandible can be used as a means of determining an individual's gender. Furthermore, Western populations can use the study results to identify damaged or unknown mandibles.


With sincere gratitude, we acknowledge and Dr. Madan Lal Ajmani, Professor and Ex-Head of Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology for their extended support.

The authors sincerely thank those who donated their bodies to science so that anatomical research could be performed. Results from such research can potentially increase mankind's overall knowledge that can then improve patient care. Therefore, these donors and their families deserve our highest gratitude.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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