|Come together: Researchers looked at skulls of men|
and women dating back to the 16th century and
found that over time they have grown alike
But when it comes to their faces at least, the two sexes are more similar than you might think.
Researchers looked at skulls of men and women dating back to the 16th century and found that over time they have grown alike.
The facial structure of women in particular has changed and become noticeably larger than their older counterparts.
Experts said it was not to do with women evolving to look more like their men, but that better diet and environmental factors had caused the changes.
They examined more than 200 skulls dating between the 16th and 20th centuries from Spain and around 50 skulls from 20th century Portugal to come to their conclusions.
Having such a wide spread of samples was important to the team from North Carolina State University as it showed them how the changes happened over a long period of time.
They found that not only were men and women more alike, but that the Spanish and Portuguese sample were alike too, suggesting that standards developed for one country could be applied for both.
'Applying 20th century standards to historical remains could be misleading, since sex differences can change over time'
The team focused in on the differences between men and women because it could ‘help us establish the sex of the remains based on their craniofacial features,’ said lead researcher Dr Ann Ross from the North Carolina university department of anthropology.
‘Improving our understanding of the craniofacial features of regional groups can help us learn more from skeletal remains, or even help us identify an individual based on his or her remains,’ she said.
Being able to carry this out is particularly important when an incomplete skeleton is found, she added.
‘This has applications for characterising older remains. Applying 20th century standards to historical remains could be misleading, since sex differences can change over time - as we showed in this study.’
In addition to academic use, the research could be useful in criminal investigations as investigators will be able to tell a man from a woman more easily.