Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Anthropology



Major Advisor

Margaret Streeter, Ph.D.


Histological analysis of cortical bone can be used to provide information on age at death, health status, and the influence of biomechanical forces on bones. Specifically, a better understanding of the variation in mean osteon size can increase our knowledge about the influence of factors such as age and sex associated changes and their effects on bone metabolic functions. Previous studies suggest that these influences are bone specific and have produced varying results regarding the association between osteon size and the variables mentioned above. To date, no research has focused on mean osteon size in metacarpals. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is any correlation between age, sex, or handedness and mean osteon size in the second metacarpal. The bones used in this study derive from a mid-nineteenth century cemetery in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. One hundred and eighty second metacarpals from 102 individuals (58 females and 44 males) representing both the left (n=93) and right (n=87) sections were examined histologically to determine mean osteon size. No association was found between mean osteon size and either age or handedness. However, a statistically significant difference in mean osteon size between males and females was found at a 95% confidence level, with a p-value of 3.6 x 10-8.