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Links:
Death To Dust: What Happens To Dead Bodies? Death To Dust: What Happens To Dead Bodies?
Grave Words: Notifying Survivors About Unexpected Deaths Grave Words: Notifying Survivors About Unexpected Deaths

Death Investigation: The Basics Death Investigation: The Basics

DECOMPOSITION

From: Iserson KV: Death To Dust: What Happens To Dead Bodies? Second Edition
Galen Press, Ltd. Tucson, AZ, 2001, 821 pages.


Stages of Decomposition in an Exposed Body

Stage
Description
Initial Decay The cadaver appears fresh externally but is decomposing internally due to the
activities of bacteria and any parasites present in the body before death.
Putrefaction The cadaver is swollen by gas produced internally and has the odor of decaying flesh.
Black Putrefaction Flesh is of creamy consistency. Exposed tissue is black. The body collapses as gases escape. The odor of decay is very strong.
Butyric Fermentation The cadaver is drying. Some flesh remains at first, and a cheesy odor develops. The exposed surface is moldy from fermentation.
Dry Decay The cadaver is almost dry. Further decay slows.



Decomposition of Cadavers in Cold Water*

2 days: Washerwoman's hands.
25 days: Bloating, marbling, slippage
38 days: Bloating, slippage, dark gray-brown discoloration, focal adipocere, purge fluid in body cavities.
68 days:
Bloating, slippage, dark gray-brown discoloration, extensive subcutaneous adipocere, purge fluid in body cavities.
109 days: Total saponification covered by a thin friable crust.
433 days: Total saponification with thick friable crust and skeletonization.

*These changes were seen in a group of cadavers immersed together in 65 to 80 meters of sea water at about 10ºC.

Order in Which Carnivores Feed on Exposed Human Corpses .

Stage 1: Front of the chest eaten and one or both arms removed. The facial tissues are often eaten away.
Stage 2: Both legs eaten and possibly removed.
Stage 3: Only the bones of the spine remain connected, and virtually all the flesh is gone.
Stage 4: All body parts devoured. The bones or fragments of bones are widely scattered.




Copyright 2001-2013 Galen Press, Ltd.