Human stature varies at different times of the day by one-and-half to two cm. It is less in the afternoon and evening due to the reduced elasticity of the inter vertebral discs and the longitudinal vertebral muscles. Both malnutrition and advancing years reduce stature.

After the age of thirty, the human stature undergoes a natural processes of senile degeneration (gradual loss of elasticity of the vertebral disks, and the individual changes of posture due to aging processes in general) cause gradual decrease in stature by about 0.6 mm. per year on an average. The stature is greater by one to three cm on lying.

On an average, the body lengthens after death by about two cm. due to complete loss of muscle tone, relaxation of large joints and vertebral disks and loss of tensioning effect of paraspinal muscles on inter vertebral discs, causing flattening of vertebral curvature.

If the body has been dismembered, the approximate human stature may be determined by:

(1) The length from the tip of the middle finger to the tip of the opposite middle finger, when arms are fully extended, closely equals the height.

(2) Twice the length of one arm, with 30 cm. added for two clavicles, and four cm. for the sternum, is equal to the height.

(3) The length of forearm measured from tip of olecranon process to tip of the middle finger is equal to 5/19 of the stature.

(4) The length from the vertex to the symphysis pubis is roughly half of stature. After 14 years of age the symphysis pubis lies about halfway up the body. Before 14 years the trunk is longer than the lower limbs.

(5) The height of head measured by the vertical distance from the top of the head to the tip of the chin is about one- seventh and the length of skull is about one-eighth of the total height.

(6) The length from the sternal notch to symphysis pubis multiplied by 3.3 gives the stature.

(7) The length of vertebral column is 35/100 of the height.

(8) To the length of entire skeleton, add two-and-half cm. to four cm. for the thickness of the soft parts.

(9) Maximum foot length divided by 0.15 gives human stature.

ANTHROPOMETRY (Bertillon system)

It is based on the principle that after the age of 21 years, the human stature dimensions of the skeleton remain unchanged and also that the ratio in size of different parts to one another varies considerably in different individuals. As such, this is applicable only to adults. This system includes:

(1) Descriptive data: such as color of hair, eyes, complexion, shape of nose, ears, chin, etc.

(2) Body marks: such as moles, scars, tattoo marks.

(3) Body measurements: such as height, anteroposterior diameter of head and trunk, the span of outstretched arms, the length of left middle finger, left little finger, left forearm, left foot, length and breadth of right ear and color of left iris.

The photographs of a front view of the head and a profile view of the right side of head are also taken. As a sole means of identification, photographs are not always reliable, and they may be a source of error even when they are inspected by experts. This system has now been replaced by dactylography.