A new test of the sex of the Lake Mungo 3 skeleton

Arthur Durband, Daniel Rayner, Michael Westaway

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The Lake Mungo 3 skeleton has been the subject of controversy since its discovery in 1974. Brown (2000) has alleged that the sex of this individual cannot be determined from the available evidence, since the skeleton lacks the most diagnostic areas of the skull and pelvis. In an effort to reexamine the sex diagnosis of Lake Mungo 3 our team collected an exhaustive battery of postcranial measurements from the skeleton. These measurements are compared to a number of Australian samples of known sex, both from the Pleistocene as well as the Holocene. In all, approximately 55 postcranial measurements are used for these comparisons. Many of the measurements sampled for Lake Mungo 3 fall at the extreme high end of the Holocene male sample, sometimes beyond the observed Holocene male range, and likewise fall well outside the Holocene female range. Lake Mungo 3 is also very similar in size to 'robust' Pleistocene and early Holocene males and larger than a known Pleistocene female. These results support the assignment of male sex to Lake Mungo 3. However, they also lead us to question the attribution of Lake Mungo 3 to a 'gracile' category amongst early Australians.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-83
    JournalArchaeology in Oceania
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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