Although counting cementum annuli of lower incisor is a reliable method for age estimation in cervids, it inevitably involves the destruction of specimens. Here we studied the relationship between cranial suture closure patterns and age to test the possibility of cranial suture closure as a non-destructive age indicator in sika deer (Cervus nippon) specimens from Kinkazan Island, Japan, for which extensive life records were available. A strong positive relationship between the sum of suture closure level scores and age was found. We found that this relationship was even stronger than the relationship between age and the crown height of the first molar, which is frequently used for non-destructive age determination. Our study highlights the potential of cranial suture closure as an alternative valid tool for age estimation.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3