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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 91-97

A study of cephalic index of Bengali subjects of Tripura for determination of race


1 Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Agartala Government Medical College and GBP Hospital, Agartala, Tripura, India
2 Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Tripura Medical College and Dr. BRAM Teaching Hospital, Agartala, Tripura, India

Date of Web Publication25-Oct-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jayanta Sankar Chakrabarti
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Agartala Government Medical College and GBP Hospital, P. O. Kunjaban, Agartala - 799 005, Tripura
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jms.jms_1_17

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  Abstract 

Background: There has been a common belief among the people of Tripura that the racial origin of the Bengali subjects is from Aryans.
Aims: The aim of this study was to determine the cephalic index of Bengali population of Tripura, for determination of their racial origin.
Setting and Design: A data-based study carried out in a tertiary care teaching institute, Agartala.
Materials and Methods: After obtaining ethical clearance from the Institutional Ethics Committee, this study was conducted on the cadavers of Bengali subjects of Tripura brought for medicolegal postmortem examination in a tertiary care teaching hospital in Tripura. A total number of 411 cases were selected at random for the study during April 2015–March 2016. Using a slide caliper (Martin's type), the maximum length and breadth of skull with and without soft tissue were measured and individual's cephalic index was calculated.
Statistical Analysis Used: Data collected were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) Windows based version 21.0.
Results: The study comprised 282 (68.6%) males and 129 (31.4%) females. Two hundred and twenty-one numbers of subjects (53.77%) were found to be mesaticephalic, while 184 subjects (44.76%) and 6 subjects (1.45%) were brachycephalic and dolichocephalic, respectively. In case of cephalic index without soft tissue, 233 subjects (56.69%) were mesaticephalic and 178 subjects (43.31%) were brachycephalic, whereas none was found to be dolichocephalic.
Conclusion: Among 411 numbers of subjects, when cephalic index was calculated with soft tissue, 221 numbers of subjects (53.77%) were found to be mesaticephalic, while 184 subjects (44.76%) and 6 subjects (1.45%) were brachycephalic and dolichocephalic, respectively. In case of cephalic index without soft tissue, 233 subjects (56.69%) were mesaticephalic and 178 subjects (43.31%) were brachycephalic, whereas none was found to be dolichocephalic.

Keywords: Cephalic index, race, skull


How to cite this article:
Chakrabarti JS, Choudhury P, Chakraborty PN. A study of cephalic index of Bengali subjects of Tripura for determination of race. J Med Soc 2018;32:91-7

How to cite this URL:
Chakrabarti JS, Choudhury P, Chakraborty PN. A study of cephalic index of Bengali subjects of Tripura for determination of race. J Med Soc [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Nov 17];32:91-7. Available from: http://www.jmedsoc.org/text.asp?2018/32/2/91/236142


  Introduction Top


The modern classification of human race is made on the basis of certain genetic traits referred to as racial criteria, which can be assessed by various means, namely, morphology, osteology, and physiology. Accordingly, the human race is classified into three primary groups.[1] They are:

  1. Negroids
  2. Caucasoids
  3. Mongoloids.


Since the middle of the 19th Century, many workers have developed an array of nonmetrical and metrical methods of racial determination. In the hands of an experienced observer, morphological (nonmetrical) methods are relatively fast and accurate (up to 90% correct). Because of the subjective and experiential nature of visual inspection, attempts have been made to determine the probability of correct observation to standardize evaluation procedures using discriminated function analysis or other objective measures. Accuracy of metrical analysis is reported to range between 77% and 95% correct assessments.[2]

Attempts to differentiate crania by region of geographic origin using multivariate methods such as discriminant function analysis can have accuracies of over 90%.[3] No part of the human body has been so thoroughly studied by anthropologist as the skull. Besides being readily measurable and relative independence on environmental fluctuations, the skull is also the matrix of the form of head and face. Thus, skull defines the best racial characters both morphologically and osteometrically and remains the most reliable part of the skeleton from which racial affinity can be determined.[4] The race of a skull can be successfully determined in 85%–90% of the cases.[5]

Traits useful in the assessment of racial affiliation from the overall features of the skull include its length, breadth, and height, the shape of the face, the width of the zygomatic arches, the shapes of the orbits, the interorbital breadth, and the size, shape, and degree of guttering of the nasal aperture.[6]

The metrical study of skull, which is known as craniometry, is one such method commonly practiced and accepted worldwide, particularly for those skeletal parts which could be measured and then statistically analyzed to express as actual measurements or indices. It is an indispensable tool in racial determination for the purpose of identification of the skeletal remains. From the measurements of skull, various indices can be deduced. Among these craniometric indices, the cephalic index is an important denominator of race determination. It is expressed as the ratio of the breadth of the skull to its length. The cephalic index is considered the most stable biometric constant.[7] The cephalic index varies with different races and from its value, skull can be divided into different racial groups.

Being a vast country, India is inhabited by people of diverse origins amid racial hybridization and other factors such as migration that influences the formation of race. Thus, various ethnic elements have entered into the population of India as observed by Risely HH, who is considered as a pioneer in the field of ethnological study and research on the people of India, which is recorded in the Census of India 1901.[1]

Tripura is a small state of India situated in the Northeastern part of the country. The majority of inhabitant of Tripura are Bengali migrated from East Pakistan which is now called Bangladesh. The Bengalis, also spelled as the Bengalees, are a major Indo-Aryan ethnic group. They are native to the region of Bengal in South Asia, which is presently divided between Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. They speak Bengali, the most easterly branch of the Indo-European language family.

The Bengal region has been a melting pot of races throughout history, providing diverse origins for the Bengali people. Outside Bengal proper, Bengali-majority populations also reside in India's Tripura state, the Barak Valley in Assam state, and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Bengali population of Tripura is said to be of the Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Although so far, no detailed study has been conducted to confirm this assumption. Despite the availability of rich and extensive literature of Tripura, there seems to be hardly any bioanthropological account of the population groups of Tripura drawn on the basis of adequate scientific data.

The lack of scientific data pertaining to racial parameters of this region is a severe handicap for the forensic experts. While dealing with these cases, having no sophisticated laboratory facilities, forensic experts are compelled to depend on data pertaining to other population which may lead to erroneous reporting.

The determination of race involves consideration of various denominators, cephalic index being one of them. Although it is an essential parameter, determination of cephalic index alone cannot comprehensively establish the racial affinity. However, given the scarcity of data, this study was taken up so that it may provide some information for the basis of establishment of racial identification of skeletal remains. In this study, the cephalic index of Bengali population of Tripura was determined and compared the results with observations made elsewhere in the subcontinent as well as in other parts of the world.

Morant stated that the position of any race could be determined from the value of cephalic index. However, the cephalic alone is quite incapable of discriminating between fundamental types or of distinguishing relationships between races which are known to be allied. The cephalic index is influenced enormously by the breadth and hardly by its length.[7]



Krogman et al. provided the descriptive morphology of the skull in the three main human groups - Negroid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid, basing on the cephalic index. The names of these three groups are dolichocephalic with a cephalic index ranging from 70 to 74.9, mesocephalic with a cephalic index ranging from 75 to 79.9, and brachycephalic with a cephalic index ranging from 80 to 84.9.[8]


  Materials and Methods Top


The present work, a prospective study, was carried out in the mortuary of a tertiary care teaching institute in Tripura, on the cadavers brought for medicolegal postmortem examination. A total number of 411 cases were selected at random for the study during April 2015–March 2016. This study was conducted after obtaining the permission from the Institutional Ethics Committee. Written informed consent was taken from the near relatives of the deceased persons.

Subjects for this study were cadavers of both sexes from Bengali population of state of Tripura whose age were 15 years and above. Cases with injuries of scalp, fractures of the skull as well as deformed skulls were excluded from this study. Highly decomposed bodies were also excluded from this study.

Detail particulars such as age, sex, ethnic, occupation, cause of death, and approximate time of death were obtained from the relatives of the deceased and investigative officer and recorded in a pro forma.

The head was carefully examined and scrutinized for the presence of any soft tissue diseases and injuries or any bony deformities and fractures. Instruments and appliances used in the present study were B.P. knife with scalpel, retractors, and Martin's caliper.

Bony landmarks, namely, glabella, external occipital protuberance, and parietal eminences were identified and using a slide caliper (Martin's type), the maximum length and breadth of skull with soft tissue were measured. All the measurements were taken carefully by a single investigator to minimize personal error. For obtaining the maximum length of skull, the length between the glabella, which is the most forward projecting point on the frontal bone, and the opisthocranion, which is the most backward projecting point of the occipital bone, was measured. For obtaining the maximum breadth of skull, the distance between the euryons, the most prominent part in the parietal bones, was measured.

Then, an incision is made about 2 cm behind ear lobule and extended across the vault at an identical point on the opposite side dividing the scalp into anterior and posterior half. The two halves of the scalp were then reflected forward and backward, respectively. Anterior flap was reflected up to a point just below the glabella and the posterior flap to a point just beyond the external occipital protuberance. Again, both the skull and the soft tissue were scrutinized for the presence of any injury or disease. Then, soft tissues, for example, muscles, were carefully removed from their attachments. After identifying the bony landmarks, the cranial measurements without soft tissues were taken.

The measurements thus obtained were recorded in the pro forma. Data collected were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) Windows based version 21.0. Descriptive statistical analysis using Microsoft word and Excel was used to generate tables. Chi-square test and Student's t-test were used for comparison analysis. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


In the series, a total number of 411 cases of Bengali population of Tripura, whose ages were 15 years and above, were selected from the cases brought for medicolegal autopsy to the Mortuary of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology Department, Agartala Government Medical College and G.B.P. Hospital, Agartala, during April 2015–March 2016. The cases were studied to find out the cephalic index for the establishment of race. Anthropometric measurements of maximum skull breadth and length with and without soft tissue were recorded for each case. From these observations, the cephalic index was calculated. The data thus obtained were analyzed statistically.

Among the various ethnic groups of Tripura, only the subjects from the Bengali communities were collected for the present study.

The minimum and maximum age of the cases studied were 15 years and 84 years, respectively. For evaluation purposes, the different ages were categorized into 8 groups. The maximum cases (31.87%) were in the age group of 41–50 years, followed by 51–60 years (15.82%) as shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of age groups

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The study comprised 282 (68.6%) males and 129 (31.4%) females as shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of sex

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For calculation purposes, the maximum breadth of the skull in centimeters was categorized in different ranges as 13–13.9, 14–14.9, and 15–15.9 as shown in [Table 3].
Table 3: Maximum skull breadth distribution

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In the present study, when the maximum skull breadth was measured with soft tissue, out of total 411 numbers of subjects, maximum skull breadth in 149 (36.25%) numbers of subjects was 15–15.9 cm, in 167 (40.63%) numbers of subjects was 14 –14.9 cm and in 95 (23.12%) numbers of subjects was 13–13.9 cm. When the maximum skull breadth was measured without soft tissue, maximum skull breadth in 50 (12.17%) numbers of subjects was 15–15.9 cm, in 89 (21.65%) numbers of subjects was 14–14.9 cm and in 272 (66.18%) numbers of subjects was 13–13.9 cm.

The maximum skull breadth in the Bengali population of Tripura was in the range of 13.60–15.80 cm when measured with soft tissue and it was 13–15 cm when measured without soft tissue. The mean value of maximum skull breadth with soft tissue was 14.50 with a standard deviation of ± 0.16, while without soft tissue, it was 13.5 with a standard deviation of ± 0.14. The correlation coefficient of maximum skull breadth with and without soft tissue was 0.84.

For calculation purposes, the maximum length of the skull in centimeters was categorized in different ranges as 16–16.9, 17–17.9, 18–18.9, and 19–19.9 as shown in [Table 4].
Table 4: Maximum skull length distribution

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In the present study, the distribution of the maximum skull length with soft tissue in the subjects was 128 (31.14%) cases in the range of 19–19.9 cm, 202 (49.14%) cases in 18–18.9 cm, 79 (19.22%) cases in 17–17.9 cm, and two (0.5%) cases in 16–16.9 cm, respectively. On the other hand, the maximum skull length without soft tissue of all cases of the subjects when studied together were none in the range of 19–19.9 cm, while 12 (2.92%) cases were in the range of 18–18.9 cm, 157 (40.14%) cases in 17–17.9 cm, and 242 cases (56.94%) were in the range of 16–16.9 cm.

The maximum skull length in the subjects was in the range of 17.80–19.60 cm when measured with soft tissue and it was 16.50–17.80 cm when measured without soft tissue. The mean value of the maximum skull length with soft tissue was 18.36 with a standard deviation of ± 0.18, while without soft tissue, it was 16.75 with a standard deviation of ± 0.17. The correlation coefficient of the maximum skull length with and without soft tissue in the subjects was 0.87.

In the present study, among 411 numbers of subjects, when cephalic index was calculated with soft tissue, 221 numbers of subjects (53.77%) were found to be mesaticephalic, while 184 subjects (44.76%) and 6 subjects (1.45%) were brachycephalic and dolichocephalic, respectively. In case of cephalic index without soft tissue, 233 subjects (56.69%) were mesaticephalic and 178 subjects (43.31%) were brachycephalic whereas none was found to be dolicocephalic as shown in [Table 5].
Table 5: Cephalic index distribution

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  Discussion Top


In India, quoting from the observations made by Risely HH in the Census of India, 1901, Das[1] stated that the people of India consist of varied and diverse racial elements. Many workers also observed wide heterogeneous racial elements confirming the multiethnicity of the people of India.

Various workers, such as Giles and Elliot,[2] Fatteh,[5] Morant,[7] Pearson and Davin,[9] Chakravartti,[10] Hooton,[11] Lanthan,[12] Roche,[13] Shukla,[14] Singh,[15] and Singh,[16] have studied skull morphology and its metrical features and observed that the racial characters are best defined in the skull. Chakravartti[10] undertook the pioneering research project on biology of man in Manipur, under the auspices of the J.N. University P.G. Centre, Imphal, which has thrown some light on the anthropogenetic data of the people of Manipur. From the data, he obtained cephalic index of the people of different ethnic groups of Manipur. The measurements were taken from the live subjects, i.e., with soft tissue.

The present study was undertaken with intent to deduce data of cephalic index of Bengali subjects of Tripura as well as to know the difference between the cephalic index obtained from the measurements taken with soft tissue to that of without soft tissue. The relationship between the maximum skull breadth and length with soft tissue, determined by applying correlation coefficient formula, in the subjects was 0.60; whereas without soft tissue, the correlation coefficient was 0.52. The relationship between the maximum skull breadth and cephalic index with soft tissue, determined by applying correlation coefficient formula, in the subjects was 0.45; whereas without soft tissue, the correlation coefficient was 0.50.

St. Moyme LE and Iscan and Helmer (1993)[4] stated that many racial traits do not appear fully until puberty. Lanthan observed some evidence that the growth of cranium may cease at about 15 years of age.[12] It is, therefore, the individuals whose ages are 15 years and above were selected for the present series.

Morant (1923),[7] in his study of ninety skulls, showed that the Burmese people belong to the brachycephalic as well as the mesocephalic group. He also reported that the Tibetans belonged to the mesocephalic group. In the same study, he observed that the Malayans were brachycephalic while the Chinese were mesocephalic. In the present study, it was found that the cephalic index with soft tissue in the Bengalis of Tripura was ranged from 75 to 79.5 in 53.77% cases, 80–84.9 in 44.76% cases, and 70–74.9 in only 1.45% cases. Hence, 53.77% cases were mesocephalic, 44.76% cases were brachycephalic whereas only 1.45% cases were dolichocephalic group. The range of cephalic index without soft tissue was 75–79.5 in 56.69% cases and 80–84.9 in 43.31% cases whereas there was no one from the range of 70–74.9. The observation of this series showed the interrelated racial characteristics similar to that of the Burmese, Tibetan, and Chinese people. The cephalic index of all these groups of people falls mainly between mesocephaly and brachycephaly. Since racial traits follow the Mendelian law of inheritance, owing to the very nature of human behavior of intermarriages among different groups of people, typical racial elements of a particular group may not be observed. Thus, even within a group of people, the admixture of racial traits is always present as stated by many workers.

In the present study, there were no cases in the dolichocephalic group when the skull without soft tissue was studied. These findings were different from that of Chakravartti,[10] which was conducted in live Manipuri subjects of Northeast India where majority of the cases were mesocephalic (49.52%) followed by dolichocephalic (40%) and brachycephalic (10.48%). The significant difference between these two series was the absence of the dolichocephalic element in the present study, in contrast to the study conducted by Chakravartti, which may be attributed to the nutritional status of the subjects, difference in the sample size, inherent variation of observation of each workers, and most importantly, racial admixture over the period.

In this study, 411 subjects from Bengali population of Tripura (282 males and 129 females) were included in the study. When all the 411 cases were studied together, the mean value of maximum skull breadth with soft tissue was 14.50 with a standard deviation of ± 0.28, and without soft tissue, it was 13.50 with a standard deviation of ± 0.18. The small standard deviation value of cephalic index without soft tissue showed that the observations were very close to its mean value whereas the standard deviation was comparatively more when the cephalic index was computed with soft tissue. This shows that the observation with soft tissue was spread more widely over its mean value than that of without soft tissue. This difference was also observed in cases of maximum skull length with and without soft tissue, which was 18.36 ± 0.32 and 16.75 ± 0.29, respectively. The observation shows that cephalic index can be obtained more accurately when the measurements are taken without soft tissue. The standard deviations of maximum skull breadth and length with soft tissue were ± 0.28 and ± 0.32, whereas it was ± 0.18 and ± 0.29, respectively, when measured without soft tissue. In both observations, the standard deviations were more in the measurements of length than in the breadth, but the differences in their measurements with and without soft tissue were almost the same, i.e., 0.12 and 0.11, respectively. Therefore, greater standard deviation in length than in breadth might not be due to the thickness of tissues but could be due to varying degree of growth in the cartilaginous joints between the sphenoid and ethmoid and especially between the sphenoid and occipital bones in the base of the skull. More variation in the cranial length could be as a result of the varying degree of growth of the cartilaginous joints as stated by Roche and Lewis.[13]

Shukla,[14] while studying 266 skulls collected from different parts of the subcontinent, also found that the cephalic index varied from 64 to 86. In the present study, the Bengalis were found to have both the mesocephalic and brachycephalic elements with a negligible proportion of the dolichocephalic elements, while Shukla's was dolichocephalic.

The correlation coefficient between the maximum skull breadth with and without soft tissue was 0.84 while the correlation coefficient between the maximum skull length with and without soft tissue was 0.83. In both instances, the correlation coefficients were moderately positive indicating a directly proportional relationship.

It was observed that the readings of the measurement with soft tissue were higher than that of without soft tissue. The factors for higher readings of the measurement with soft tissue could be attributed to the very presence of the soft tissue, postmortem loss of elasticity, rigor mortis, etc., The thickness of the soft tissue not only differs from person to person but also locally from one site to another. To verify the significance of the difference between the two readings, it was statistically analyzed by applying Z- or t-test (wherever applicable). The difference of means (Z-test) between the observations of cephalic index with and without soft tissue was 7.94. Since the value exceeds 2.58 and the P < 0.001, it can be concluded that the difference between the two means was statistically significant. This means the observation in live subjects, i.e. with soft tissue will be different to that of without soft tissue. Singh[15] in his work included the Indonesians in the brachycephalic group of cephalic index. This observation was not in agreement with that of Singh's work, which was more toward the late part of the brachycephalic or hyperbrachycephalic range.

Singh,[16] in his series of 84 adult skulls of Chinese origin, observed two types of Chinese crania: Type A with a cephalic index of brachycephalic range and type B with a cephalic index of mesocephalic range, which was similar to the findings of the present study. Statistically, the cephalic index of both the Chinese and the Bengalis of Tripura was in the mesocephalic and brachycephalic groups.

Cephalic index when computed from the measurements with and without soft tissue was highly significant (P = 0.001), which means that the difference of mean between these two measurements will be different. Thus, to deduce an accurate cephalic index, measurements should be taken without soft tissue. This finding is in agreement with the findings of Longkumer[17] who conducted similar studies among the Manipuris.


  Conclusion Top


Four hundred and eleven cases comprising 282 males and 129 females were selected from the cases brought for medicolegal autopsy to find out the cephalic index of the Bengali subjects of Tripura, for the establishment of race and to determine the difference between the cephalic index obtained from the measurements taken with soft tissue and without soft tissue.

Among 411 numbers of subjects, when cephalic index was calculated with soft tissue, 221 numbers of subjects (53.77%) were found to be mesaticephalic, while 184 subjects (44.76%) and 6 subjects (1.45%) were brachycephalic and dolichocephalic, respectively. In case of cephalic index without soft tissue, 233 subjects (56.69%) were mesaticephalic and 178 subjects (43.31%) were brachycephalic, whereas none was found to be dolicocephalic.

Cephalic index of the Bengalis of Tripura, when computed from the measurements with and without soft tissue, was highly significant (P = 0.001), which means that the difference of mean between these two measurements will be different. Thus, to deduce an accurate cephalic index, measurements should be taken without soft tissue.

Financial support and sponsorship

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Das BM. Outlines of Physical Anthropology. New Delhi: K. M. Agencies Pvt. Ltd.; 1990.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Giles E, Elliot O. Race identification from cranial measurements. J Forensic Sci 1962;7:147-57.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Berkovitz Barry KB. Sexual and geographic variation in the skull. In: Standring S, editor. Gray's Anatomy. 39th ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 2005. p. 489.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Iscan MY, Helmer RP. Racial characters of skull. In: Iscan MY, editor. Forensic Analysis of the Skull. New York: Wiley Liss Inc; 1993. p. 124-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Fatteh A, editor. Race of skull. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co.; 1973. p. 60.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Briggs CA. Anthropological assessment. In: Clement JG, editor. 1st ed. London: Arnold; 1998. p 67-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Morant GM. A first study of the Tibetan skull. Biometrika 1923;4:193-260.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Krogman WM, Mc Gregor J, Frost B. A problem in human skeletal remains. J FBI Law Enforc 1948;17:7-12.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Pearson K, Davin AG. On biometric constants of human skull. Biometrika 1924;16:328-53.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Chakravartti R, editor. Anthropogenetic study of four Manipur population groups. In: People of Manipur. Delhi: BR Publishing Corp.; 1986. p. 42-72.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Hooton EA. A method of racial analysis. Science 1926;44:256.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Lanthan RA. Observations on the growth of the cranial base in human skull. J Anat 1966;100:435.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Roche AF, Lewis AB. Sex differences in the elongation of the cranial base during pubescence. Angle Orthod 1974;44:279-94  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Shukla AP. A study of cranial capacity and cranial index of Indian skulls. J Anat Soc India 1966;15:31-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Singh HA. Determination of cephalic index for Indonesian based on ethnic groups. J Forensic Medicine & Toxicology India 1996;4:26-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Singh KB. A metrical study of Indian crania. J Anat Soc India 1963;12:12-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Longkumer KM. A Study of Cephalic Index of Manipuri Subjects for Determination of Race [Thesis for Degree of Doctor of Medicine] [Imphal]: Manipur University; 2003. p. 201.  Back to cited text no. 17
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]



 

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