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    Naturevolume 120pages167169 (1927) | Download Citation

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    Abstract

    SKELETAL RECORDS or MORTALITY.—An investigation in which, the method is at least as interesting as the results orded by Prof. T. Wingate Todd in lonthly for June. Since 1912 the anatomical laboratory of Western Reserve University hair preserved the skeletons of all subjects, of both white and negro stock, delivered to the medical school, together with a record of the age of each individual. An intensive study of this material, now 1400 specimens, with the view of determining appearances related to age, has made it possible to fix more accurately than hitherto the age at which death took place in any individual case, by an examination of the skeleton. It thus becomes possible, by applying this method to the study of skeletal remains for which a record of the age of death is not available, to determine with approximate accuracy the incidence of mortality. For the present investigation an examination has been > made of the material already mentioned in the Medical School, West African skulls in the Royal College of Surgeons, the Tasmanian skulls in the same collection, bronze age skeletons from Furness, medieval remains from Scarborough, and skeletal material ranging in date from A.D. 800 to A.D. 1000 from Pecos in New Mexico. Data for Rome and the Roman colonies in Africa and Spain for comparative purposes are taken from Macdonell's study of expectation of life in Rome, which was based upon the epitaphs of the “Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum” of the Berlin Academy. In each case interesting results emerge, but the general conclusion is perhaps most significant. The data relating to primitive and early races alike fail to show the peak of death in senility which Pearson found in the mortality curve for England. The peak of mortality occurs at a moderately early age. The peak of old-age death is therefore a comparatively modern achievement resulting from greater safety and improved conditions of living. It differs from the peak of mortality in early and primitive peoples by roughly thirty years.

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    https://doi.org/10.1038/120167a0

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