Researchers in Australia have revealed findings that will have a monumental impact on criminal investigation around the world. This new study found that human body in the stage of decomposition, has noted movements. The research was undertaken using time- lapse photography of a corpse over 17 months.
Alyson Wilson’s research, that made the discovery using time-lapse cameras to film the decomposition of a donor body in 30-minute intervals over 17 months, intrigued the research community and may open up new avenues of thought in police investigations.
The research was conducted in a relatively new setting to Australia. The body farm is called the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER). AFTER was established 3 years ago to have a microscopic understanding and examination of the human decomposition process under diverse conditions.
“What we found was that the arms were significantly moving, so that arms that started off down beside the body ended up out to the side of the body. One arm went out and then came back in to nearly touching the side of the body again,” Ms. Wilson said.
According to the undergraduate researcher, from Central Queensland University (CQUniversity), it was normal for bodies to have some movement for sometime during early decomposition but tracking movement through the process of 17 months was a staggering find.
The work builds upon Ms. Wilson’s preceding work on body decomposition that was published last month in the journal Forensic Science International: Synergy.
In that study too, she used time lapse camera to test if a scientific equation to estimate the decomposition of a body in the northern hemisphere was applicable to the Australian environment.
“Until we had AFTER, most of the science on how bodies decomposed was based on the northern hemisphere, where the climate is different, the weather is different and even the insects can be different,” she said. The study proved that the equation is equally successful in Australian environment. She further found that the movement could be attributed to shrinking and contracting when the body’s ligaments dried out.
Dr Xanthe Mallett, a senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle and forensic anthropologist and criminologist who also conducts research at AFTER was sees tremendous potential in her findings.
“What isn’t known is that the body moves as part of the decomposition process and it’s the first time that it’s been captured, as far as I know,” Dr. Mallet said. So far criminal investigation has been led with a belief that a body is found in the same position it was left in after death. This new revelation could create a paradigm shift in crime solving.