Human bodies keep moving for more than a year after death, researcher finds


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  freefaller  •  last year  •  23 comments

Human bodies keep moving for more than a year after death, researcher finds

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The zombies from ‘Walking Dead’ may be frighteningly closer to reality than you’d like to imagine.  Australian researchers have observed human bodies moving for more than a year after death, a finding that can greatly change how post-mortem investigations are conducted, they say.  Researchers at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), informally known as a body farm, used a time-lapse camera to take overhead pictures of a corpse every 30 minutes during daylight hours for 17 months. 

“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,” medical scientist Alyson Wilson told ABC Australia .    While the team expected some post-mortem movement in the early stages of decomposition, the length at which they observed the body moving was a surprising find.  These findings could “significantly” impact unexplained death investigations she added. Previously, forensic scientists assumed that the position of a discovered body was the position at time of death — if there was no evidence proving that the body was moved. 

“We think the movements relate to the process of decomposition, as the body mummifies and the ligaments dry out,” she explained. 

Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment. However, Shari Forbes, director of Canada’s first body farm — and former director of AFTER — said the finding isn’t all that uncommon. “It’s well-known to researchers but not conveyed to police investigators,” she said, namely due to the lack of facilities around the world, outside of the U.S.

The reasons for prolonged movement aren’t all that mystifying either, she added. It could be a number of things — insect larvae, shrinkage of body tissue, scavenging. Wilson also found, over the course of three years, that corpses left outdoors would mummify — the process by which the skin and flesh of a corpse is preserved — under the right circumstances. “We used to think it could only happen in a hot-and-dry environment or cold-and-dry — the key word being dry,” explained Forbes. However, the research reveals that natural mummification isn’t necessarily dependent on environmental factors and could be due to anything drawing moisture out from the body such as insects, dry soil, solar radiation. It would differ around the world, added Forbes. For example, the process of mummification in Canada could result in two extreme scenarios — the body would freeze during winter leading to some degree of mummification or rapidly decompose during the warm summers.

Wilson’s research also confirmed the value of a time-lapse camera to study the decomposition rate of a human body in any environment. In a study published last month, she used the camera to test whether a scientific equation used to estimate a body’s decomposition in the northern hemisphere could apply to an 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.

This is the “first time” such photos have been recorded, according to Dr. Xanthe Mallett, a forensic anthropologist and criminologist at the University of Newcastle.  “Previously, if the police had asked me if a set of human remains were found and they were mummified, I would have said it’s likely that that person was left outside in autumn and winter,” added Mallett. The new data “opens up the entire year for mummification in the correct circumstances, and it stops us from going down the wrong path.”


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1  seeder  Freefaller    last year

Just in case you didn't get your fill of creepy today

Seriously though as creepy as this sort of thing the study of the dead is invaluable to police and science

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Freefaller @1    last year

Well, they just found out that dead pig brains can be resurrected,,, so who knows what else we don't really understand about death.

1.1.1  MUVA  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    last year

I showed my wife your post and links as I was reading them right now she said there may be hope for me after all.

1.1.2  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    last year

Good links Perrie, thanks

1.1.3  dave-2693993  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    last year
hey just found out that dead pig brains can be resurrected,

I believe it.

In fact, I think I have worked with some of them in the past.

1.1.4  MrFrost  replied to  dave-2693993 @1.1.3    last year

In fact, I think I have worked with some of them in the past.

Certainly explains our POTUS. 

1.1.6  dave-2693993  replied to  MrFrost @1.1.4    last year


3  MrFrost    last year

I wonder if this has more to do with ligature shortening as decomposition advances. If the ligaments in the arms shrank, the arms would appear to move, (bending at elbow for example). We used to think that fingernails kept growing postmortem as well, only to find out that the reason they appeared to grow was because the soft tissue of the fingers shrank when we rot. 

3.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  MrFrost @3    last year

That's definitely a part of it

3.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  MrFrost @3    last year

I was also thinking maybe production of gases during decomposition could cause some shifting.

3.2.1  MrFrost  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.2    last year

I was also thinking maybe production of gases during decomposition could cause some shifting.

True. I produce gas when I am not decomposing though. 

In all seriousness, you're right. 

4  Kathleen    last year

I have read that when some people were cremated, they moved around. They later found out it was from tissue shrinkage. 

Who knows what the future will bring.

If they do bring back someone after days, I would like to know what they experienced though.

4.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Kathleen @4    last year

M ourners gathered on July 13, 1954 to watch the cremation of the world's greatest and most shocking painter. Soon to be an international icon, Frida Kahlo knew how to give her fans one last frightening goodbye. As the cries of her admirers filled the room, the sudden blast of heat from the open incinerator doors blew her body bolt upright. Her hair, now on fire from the flames, blazed around her head like a halo. Kahlo’s lips appeared to break into a seductive grin just as the doors closed shut. Her last diary entry read "I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return".

Sweet dreams jrSmiley_7_smiley_image.png

4.1.1  igknorantzrulz  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    last year

that's my kind of exit !

4.1.2  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    last year

Wow that's an exit

4.1.3  Kathleen  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    last year

Thanks..... : )

4.1.4  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Kathleen @4.1.3    last year

off topic but i was behaved on yours earlier

4.1.5  sandy-2021492  replied to  Freefaller @4.1.2    last year

When I read the title and Kathleen's post, I thought I remembered reading that Frida Kahlo sat up during her cremation.  Apparently, she did, and with style.  What a drama queen.

4.1.6  Kathleen  replied to  igknorantzrulz @4.1.4    last year

I know.

pat wilson
4.1.7  pat wilson  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    last year

Woah ! Gotta hand it to Frida for the drama !

5  MrFrost    last year

Is there an echo in here? 

6  Enoch    last year

Dear Friend Freefaller: Interesting.

Thanks for posting.

As more is known, please keep us in the loop.



Buzz of the Orient
7  Buzz of the Orient    last year

Where is Dr. Frankenstein when we really need him?


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