Analysis of the hard-tissue menton shape variation in adult South Africans using cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans

Sandra Braun*, Alison F. Ridel, Ericka N. L'Abbé, Anna C. Oettlé

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Objective: In forensic anthropology, the biological profile is based on human variation and can help in the process of personal identification. In order to better understand shape variation of the mental region, this study analyzed the influence of population affinity and sex on the menton in adult black and white South Africans, using geometric morphometric methods (GMM). Materials and Methods: We used cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans of 291 adult dental patients with dentition patterns up to Eichner Index B3, retrospectively collected from the Oral and Dental Hospital, University of Pretoria. We placed eleven standard craniometric landmarks on the menton, mandible, and maxilla of three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions by automatic landmarking and analyzed them by applying GMM. In addition, a subtle shape matrix of seven landmarks was created for a focused analysis of the menton only. Finally, we tested the reproducibility of the landmarks placement with a dispersion analysis. Results: The landmarks used in this study were reproducible, with an overall dispersion of less than 1 mm. Population affinity significantly influenced menton shape, with P-values = 0.001 in the complete sample and within the sex groups. Differences between sexes for these seven landmarks were also statistically significant (P-values between 0.001 to 0.003) in the complete sample, but not within population groups in isolation. The accuracy for estimation of population affinity by discriminant function analysis was 86.9%. Conclusion: The use of automatic landmarking improved landmark reproducibility. Population affinity and sexual dimorphism significantly influenced menton shape. However, shape analysis, including all eleven landmarks, was not significantly influenced by sex. This study supports further research focusing on the facial approximations for forensic identification in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200532
JournalForensic Imaging
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Chin shape
  • Cone-beam computed tomography
  • Craniometric landmarks
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Geometric morphometric
  • Sexual dimorphism


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