U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

A multifaceted exploration of ontogenetic variation in vertebral neural canal size across contemporary populations

NCJ Number
American Journal of Biological Anthropology Volume: 180 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2023
Louise K. Corron; Christopher A. Wolfe; Kyra E. Stull
Date Published
February 2023
24 pages

Vertebral neural canal (VNC) dimensions are considered a reliable indicator of childhood stress; however, no study has characterized variation in VNC or shape or the impact of extrinsic or intrinsic fact on their range of variation, so the current study explored VNC dimensions of subadult samples varying in chronology, population of origin, geography, and socioeconomic backgrounds.


The study found that AP diameter growth ends during childhood, while TR diameter growth progressively slows before ending in adolescence. The Colombian sample presented the smallest VNC diameters compared to the other contemporary and historic samples. VNC shape (AP/TR ratio) was similar in contemporary samples. MANOVAs and ANOVAs revealed significant differences in VNC size according to country of origin and socio-economic status, primarily differentiating the Colombian sample. The overall consistency in size and shape among groups is remarkable. While physiological stress may contribute to variability in VNC size, intrinsic ontogenetic processes and other individual and environmental factors also influence variability in VNC size. (Publisher abstract provided)