Previous studies have reported that the ageing method of Suchey-Brooks (pubic bone) and some of the features applied by Lovejoy et al. and Buckberry-Chamberlain (auricular surface) can be confidently performed on 3D visualizations from CT-scans. In this study, seven observers applied the Suchey-Brooks and the Buckberry-Chamberlain methods on 3D visualizations based on CT-scans and, for the first time, on 3D visualizations from laser scans. We examined how the bone features can be evaluated on 3D visualizations and whether the different modalities (direct observations of bones, 3D visualization from CT-scan and from laser scans) are alike to different observers. We found the best inter-observer agreement for the bones versus 3D visualizations, with the highest values for the auricular surface. Between the 3D modalities, less variability was obtained for the 3D laser visualizations. Fair inter-observer agreement was obtained in the evaluation of the pubic bone in all modalities. In 3D visualizations of the auricular surfaces, transverse organization and apical changes could be evaluated, although with high inter-observer variability; micro-, macroporosity and surface texture were very difficult to score. In conclusion, these methods were developed for dry bones, where they perform best. The Suchey-Brooks method can be applied on 3D visualizations from CT or laser, but with less accuracy than on dry bone. The Buckberry-Chamberlain method should be modified before application on 3D visualizations. Future investigation should focus on a different approach and different features: 3D laser scans could be analyzed with mathematical approaches and sub-surface features should be explored on CT-scans.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2013, Vol 151, Issue 1, p. 158-163