The human decomposition process is a strange and relatively taboo topic. There are many factors that come into play when dealing with decomposition, and the main one is the environment in which the body is situated in.
The University of Tennessee’s forensic anthropology centre is host to a ‘body farm’, which is exactly what it sounds like. Donors have given their bodies to rest here, so we can study the decomposition process as it happens, as well as altering the environment around them to see what affect the environment has on a decomposing body. The data collected has greatly assisted the world of criminology in analysing crime scenes and better understanding the process of human decomposition.
In this article, we will begin looking at the affect the environment has in the process of human decomposition, and explain the individual stages of human decomposition.
An introduction to human decomposition
The body begins the decomposition process almost instantly after death, beginning with breaking down the cells in your body. This is further encouraged by the enzymes and bacteria found in your body.
During this, the body will begin to bloat from the gasses in your body, sometimes causing a rupture in the skin from the pressure. This also forces out any excess liquids inside of any orifices.
Finally, the insects will set to work through laying eggs around the orifices on the body, such as the eyes, nose and mouth. Once hatched, the larvae will begin eating away at the tissue and exposing the body further to the outside elements.
How different weather conditions affect decomposition
Bacteria and insects thrive in hot and humid conditions, with bacteria being able to multiply much faster in warm and moist conditions, the process in which humans decompose is spend up a lot more due to these conditions, which is why we usually keep the recently deceased inside refrigerators to keep the temperature cool and slow down the process of decomposition.
In dryer climates, the body can begin a process of self-mummification, whether it is cold or warm. This process starts off from the outside of the body and slowly mummifies the insides. The circulation of dry air dramatically reduces how quick decomposition fully sets in, as bacteria needs moisture to multiply efficiently.
Bodies that are found in modern houses are often lacking in decomposition, due to the modern luxuries we have inside our homes, such as heating, and more tightly sealed rooms to prevent insects from entering inside.
There are multiple other factors that can contribute to the rate of which a corpse decomposes, such as their clothes, medications, and their health before death. These are all pieced together to find out the exact time of death and help make the cause clearer.
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