Friday, September 10, 2004

Decaying Pig Corpses and Forensics

EXETER (Reuters) - Decaying pig corpses have deposited in secretlocations around London are providing scientists with forensic information that may help them solve crimes. Scientists at the Natural History Museum are hoping that the corpses --left in woods, on top and inside of buildings among other areas -- willreveal secrets to enable them to pinpoint the time of death of a corpse."The key factor is temperature," Zoe Adams, a forensic entomologist atthe museum, told a science conference. The temperature at the different locations, the types of insects foundon the corpse and how long it took them to get there will help theresearchers estimate how much time has passed since a victim died -- thepost-mortem interval (PMI). Changes in the body such as rigor mortis give an indication of the timeof death. But after the body is 2-3 days old, more information is neededto provide an accurate estimate of PMI. That’s where the insects come in. "Each phase of the decay process has a different wave of insectsassociated with it," Adams told the annual British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. The pig carcasses give scientists a better idea of how long it takes theinsects to get to the bodies at the different locations and during different times of the year. But Adams said finding a suitable spot in the city for a corpse is aproblem."It’s smelly," she said.


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