How do we think we know that a skeleton is the remains of a woman who has given birth?
The presence of parturition scars — marks often found on female pelvis bones — have commonly been used as an indicator of child birth. This technique is used in police investigations to narrow down the identity of human remains.
Ms McFadden also said that use of the method in archaeology could lead to historical inaccuracies.
Despite the practise being in common use, particularly in the US, since first being proposed in the 1910s, a number of studies into parturition scars have resulted in conflicting findings.
Ms McFadden reanalysed data used for those studies and found the scarring was not a reliable indicator of childbirth.
“We found childbirth has a very weak association with these markers, but they strongly correlate with sex,” she said.
“A lot of the older studies only looked at females, but there’s men with these scars, so there has to be something else going on.” (paywall) Paper. – Clare McFadden, Marc F. Oxenham. Sex, Parity, and Scars: A Meta-analytic Review. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.13478 More.
She suggests that women are more likely to go through significant pelvic growth during puberty than men, which could account for disproportionate scarring that is not necessarily an indicator of childbirth.
That, of course, would be an honest error, refreshing in a world where many errors are, shall we say, unforced.
Some of us would like to see the “grandmother hypothesis” tested as well, in relation to age distributions of Stone Age women. There might be something to the claim that elders helped human groups survive. But with next to no demographics about how common older adults even were at that time, all we have is speculation.
See also: Corruptocrat crime labs and belief in “science”
Insomnia in the elderly is due to evolution? (“grandmother hypothesis”)