OCT 30, 2016 07:04 AM PDT

The Chemistry Behind the Smell of Dead Bodies

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The macabre study of how bodies decompose is known as forensic anthropology. Experts in this field are often called upon to assist in identifying the cause of death and the age of the decaying body. Morbid as the job may sound, forensic anthropologists provide crucial information to not only solve crimes, but also to explore our human past and understand our inevitable future.

Canine cadavers are indispensible to finding dead bodies, especially in disaster or crime situations. These dogs have been trained to sniff out the smell of decomposing human bodies.

But how do these dogs know what dead human bodies smell like? As it turns out, there's no ready-made vial of chemicals of death's true and complex scent. This is because so many variables are involved in how a body decomposes and what it will smell like. Watch the video to find out!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 31, 2018
Videos
OCT 31, 2018
Why Venus Could Doom 'Habitable' Exoplanets
Venus’s fate may have come down from its distance from the sun. The exact distances of the Venus zone are based on how much radiation is being emitte...
NOV 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 13, 2018
Viscoelasticity and Non-Newtonian Fluids
One of these is not like the others: honey, water, ketchup, and blood. The answer? Water, because the other three are all non-Newtonian fluid. When Isaac N...
NOV 15, 2018
Cardiology
NOV 15, 2018
An Updated Look At Pacemakers
As pacemakers are now used for a wide range of heart conditions, most of us know someone who has this life-saving medical device. Hundreds of thousands of...
NOV 25, 2018
Videos
NOV 25, 2018
Ongoing Ebola Outbreak in DRC Becomes Country's Worst Ever
On August 1, 2018, an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is still ongoing....
NOV 27, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 27, 2018
Unraveling the Secret Behind the Strength of Spider Web
You don't need to watch a Spider-Man movie to notice how tough a spider web can be. Made of fiber-based spider silk, the seemingly fragile structure ca...
DEC 12, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 12, 2018
Tooth-rejuvenating Hydrogels as Alternative to Root Canal Therapy
When the tooth's pulp has a baterial infection, the sensitive nerve endings can become painfully inflamed. Root canal therapy, also known as the endodo...
Loading Comments...