Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jonathan Bethard, Ph.D., D-ABFA

Committee Member

Lorena Madrigal, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Hodges-Simeon, Ph.D.


Bioarchaeology, childhood, life history, pubertal growth


Investigating the onset and progression of puberty can provide insight and evidence for social changes regarding the transition to adulthood. There are also many social factors that can lead to variation in the timing of the onset and progression of puberty. Methods created by Mary Lewis and Fiona Shapland for assessing changes in skeletal development associated with pubertal timing were applied to computerized tomography scans (n=400) from the New Mexico Decedent Image Database and recorded in an attempt to identify adolescent growth trends in a modern skeletal sample from the United States. This is a novel study using the methods on CT scans from a modern sample in the US. As expected, females’ progression of puberty was, on average, earlier than that of males in the sample. Menarche was found to have been achieved by an average age of 15, where, in the skeleton, it is understood to be a year after peak height velocity, during deceleration. The Shapland and Lewis puberty methods were useful in the investigation of pubertal timing using computerized tomography because they created an outline to follow even if dry bone was not physically present. Detrimental factors known to be associated with membership of marginalized groups such as low socioeconomic status and food insecurity may have delayed skeletal development and the onset of puberty.