Stature is the maximum vertical height of an individual in an upright posture. It is an essential component of biological profiling which is mostly employed when developing and reproducing physical features of missing individuals and/or criminals. Stature is the sum of the length of the various segments of the body such as skull, spine, pelvis, and lower limbs.
Stature estimation is very important especially when the biological profile of the individual being sorted for is not known. This will certainly assist in cases of crime, mass disaster, skeletons from mass grave sites and persons having amnesia. In a crime scenario, the physical evidence that can be seen include fingerprint, footprint, shoe print, as well as footsteps marks; in a mass disaster scene, fragmented and commingled body parts are always present. Whereas in a mass grave site, the physical evidence present includes full skeleton, complete, and fragmented bony elements. All these physical evidence have been of great interest in forensic science toward estimation of stature to aid identification process. This can be achieved by finding the correlation values of each segment and then use the values to developing linear regression equations for stature estimation for a particular ethnic group or race.
Studies have also revealed that morphometric features of long bone fragments that correlated well with its maximum length can also be used to derive linear regression equations for the estimation of that particular long bone specific for that ethnic group. These studies become useful in forensic investigations that involve the identification of the remains of unknown bodies which have been skeletonized.
Different body segments have also shown significant correlation with stature in different population of the world. This fact has been utilized by many researchers who in various studies use different body parts such as hands, cephalo-facial anthropometry, upper and lower limbs segments, arm span length, foot, and footprints to estimate stature. Gaur's work on estimation of stature from percutaneous lengths of tibia and fibula showed that the percutaneous mean length of the tibia was a better predictor of stature for males while the fibula was a more reliable predictor of stature in females. Swati et al. also estimated stature using the inferior extremity length and foot length in children comprising of 576 male children and 544 female children of the age group ranging from birth to 5 years and observed that stature can also be reliably estimated using the inferior extremity length and foot length.
The aim of the present study was to estimate stature using stride length and lower limb length of Efiks in Calabar South, Cross River State, Nigeria. An extensive review of literature reveals that very few studies have evaluated the use of stride length to estimate stature in different populations. Therefore, further investigation into the relationship between stride length and Stature is a sine qua non in the comprehensive evaluation of Stature, as an anthropometric and forensic parameter among various climes. It is also important that lower limb length which is completely involved in determining stride length is assessed as it will give further insight in the understanding of the concept of stature.
Material and Methods
900 subjects (450 males and 450 females) were recruited through convenience purposive sampling from among the Efiks in Calabar South, Cross River State, South-South Nigeria. The subjects were between the ages of 15–45 years. The Efiks are the most populous ethnic group in Calabar South of Cross River State. They are predominantly fishermen and shore traders as they are almost surrounded by water bodies. All the subjects included in this study were healthy and free from any apparent deformity of any part of the lower limb.
Stature was measured with an anthropometer as a vertical distance from the floor to vertex of the skull when the person is standing barefooted with his/her head in the Frankfurt Plane [Figure 1].
Lower limb length
Lower extremity length was measured in centimeter as the distance between iliac crest to the floor [Figure 2], in standing position where back of the shoulders, buttocks, and heels will be close to the wall without any rotation.
Procedures for measuring stride length
The stride length is the distance from the back of the heel of one footprint to the back of the heel of the next footprint of that same foot as shown in Figure 3.
Each subject was made to stand on a plain surface. A mark was made on the floor with a marker indicating the starting line and the subject was asked to place both heels together so they are touching the starting line and walk 10 strides away. On the 10th stride, the feet are brought together and a mark is made behind the heels (heel to heel) as the second reference point. Thereafter, the distance between the two reference points was measured. This distance was divided by 10 to derive the mean stride length of that subject.
Ethical approval for this research was granted by the ethical committee of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria.
Data were collated and scrutinized manually. Data entry and analysis was done using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, Version 21) Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), IBM Incorporated, New York, USA. Data analysis involved linear regression and correlation techniques.
Data obtained were analyzed, and mean values were derived for stature, stride length, and lower limb length. Student's t-test was used to compare differences in the mean of the measured parameters between the sexes. Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to determine the association between stature and stride length as well as stature and lower limb length. Linear regression was carried out to determine equations for the estimation of stature from stride length and lower limb length parameters. A significant difference was taken atP< 0.05.
[Table 1] above shows that mean values of stature were significantly higher in males than in females (P < 0.05). It also indicates that stride length and lower limb length for males were of significantly higher values than their female counterparts (P < 0.05).
[Table 2 and Table 3] present the correlation values and linear regression equations for the estimation of stature using the stride length and lower limb length of Efiks. Correlation coefficient values were significant and positive for both parameters.
[Table 4] shows the mean values of the observed stature and the mean values of the estimated stature derived from linear regression equations for the estimation of stature using the stride length and lower limb length of the Efiks, and there was no significant difference (P > 0.05) noted when the mean value derived from observed stature was compared with the mean value for stature derived from the linear regression equations using stride length and lower limb length.
In recent times, difficulties are experienced in forensic investigations as criminals now strive to leave no bodily physical trace at any crime scene. They wear hand gloves to cover the fingerprints, face mask to evade facial recognition, rubber sole shoes to cover up footprints, and leather clothing to make sure no hair is dropped at the crime scene which can be used for DNA analysis. The only likely feature of the criminal that is sometimes present in such crime scenarios will be his foot print and foot strides as he moves away from the crime scene.
The stride length invariably can be secured by the forensic investigators as a physical evidence which can be used for possible estimation of the stature toward personal identification of the criminal since it is believed to have a possible correlation with the lower limb length. The lower limb length and part of its component segments like the tibial length have been reported to correlate well with stature. Jasuja et al. reported that the stride length of a person is related to the height of the person. Although it can be argued that stride length may vary in different walking speeds, Jasuja et al., in their bid to estimate stature from stride length revealed that stride length of individuals while walking fast when compared with the stride length in the normal pattern of walking remains almost the same. Therefore, weather the criminal is working fast or walking with a normal stride, it can still be measured for possible use in stature estimation. The propensity of footprints and footsteps to correlate positively with lower limb length (leg length) and stature have been reported by Ekezie et al. and Jasuja, respectively. Jasuja studied the estimation of stature from footstep length. He revealed that a positive and statistically significant correlation also exist between stature and footstep length. The results of the present study clearly demonstrate that stride length and lower limb length correlate positively and can be used in the estimation of stature.
For the Efik ethnic group, the average stride length and stature were observed to be 64.0 cm and 161.7 cm in male which is higher than the female values of 61.8 cm and 159.7 cm, respectively. It showed that male values for the measured parameters are significantly (P < 0.05) higher than their female counterpart. Sex differences can be explained by the fact that females are genetically shorter than males and by earlier maturity associated with earlier cessation of growth of girls than boys.
The mean values for stature recorded for the Efik ethnic group of Cross River State were similar in range to the reported values for the Igbos of South East of Nigeria for ages between 16 and 45 years. They revealed that the mean observed stature of their studied population was 167.55 ± 9.10 cm, which is slightly higher than that of the current study with a mean value of 160.7 ± 14.6 cm. This slight difference could be due to their genetic variations and geographical location.
The correlation coefficient value derived from the linear regression equation for the estimation of stature using stride length and lower limb length of Efik ethnic group in Cross River State as represented in [Table 2 and Table 3], respectively, revealed that there is a significant relationship between stature and the measured parameters for the studied population. Mani also established a definite association between stature, limb length, and foot extent. As seen in [Table 2 and Table 3], all correlation coefficient values were positive. This shows that stature increases as the measured parameters increased in length. Invariably, the longer the stride length or lower limb length, the taller the individual.
This study has actually established the mean stature, lower limb length, and stride length specific for the Efik ethnic group of Cross River State. Stature, lower limb length, and stride length were positively and significantly correlated with each other (P < 0.05). The higher correlation coefficient between stature and lower limb length over that of stature and stride length points to the fact that lower limb length is a good predictor of stature. This is the first study in Sub-Saharan Africa to evaluate the accuracy of stride length in estimating stature for forensic purposes. This will further serve as a guidepost in understanding the various components of stature estimation as specific for different ethnicities in Nigeria.
In summary, stride length is significantly larger in male than in their female counterparts. Lower limb length is significantly higher in male than in their female counterpart. Estimation of stature from stride length correlates positivelyP< 0.05 in male and female. The positive correlation between stature and the measured parameters showed that stature can be estimated using the derived linear regression equations specific for the natives of Efik ethnic group of Cross River State. The linear regression equations derived using the lower limb length and stride length were reliable as tested [Table 4] and it was noted that it can be of immense value in the field of crime detection.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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