Skip to main content
Cranial muscle markers: A preliminary examination of size, sex, and age effects
Journal of Comparative Human Biology: Homo (2010)
  • Elizabeth Weiss, San Jose State University
Most muscle marker research consists of post-cranial analyses, but some researchers examine crania to reconstruct activities. Regardless of bones examined, anthropologists know of some of the complexities surrounding muscle marker development. Here, posterior cranial muscle markers are analyzed to determine whether they are useful in reconstructing activities by examining effects that may hinder reconstructions. Additionally, upper limb muscle markers and humeral cross-sectional robusticity variables are correlated with cranial muscle markers to determine if robust individuals are generally robust due to the synergistic effects of muscle use. Cranial muscle markers of 65 prehistoric California Amerinds are scored using a five-point observer rating scale. Body mass is calculated from femoral head size; maximum cranial length and breadth are measured with a spreading caliper; and age and sex are determined through standard procedures. Upper limb muscle markers are scored on seven sites using two dimensions within a seven-point scale. Cross-sectional properties are calculated from biplanar humeral radiographs. Aggregates are created for cranial muscle markers, upper limb muscle markers, and cross-sectional robusticity. Cranial muscle markers correlate significantly with cranial length, r=0.25 and cross-sectional robusticity of humerus, r=0.29; P’s<0.05. All variables differed between sexes (Mann–Whitney=31.00–307.50, P’s<0.01). Results imply that some differences in cranial muscle markers are related to size; however, individuals with well-developed cranial muscle markers have greater upper limb robusticity possibly due to activity patterns. Sex differences remained after size controls and may relate to activity differences.
  • Cranial,
  • muscle markers,
  • size,
  • sex,
  • age effects
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
SJSU users: use the following link to login and access the article via SJSU databases
Citation Information
Elizabeth Weiss. "Cranial muscle markers: A preliminary examination of size, sex, and age effects" Journal of Comparative Human Biology: Homo Vol. 61 (2010)
Available at: