OCT 30, 2016 7:04 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
SEP 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Reprogramming Virus to Build Better Li-ion Batteries
SEP 10, 2020
Reprogramming Virus to Build Better Li-ion Batteries
There's no doubt that the word "virus" is currently on everyone's mind. However, there's a lot mor ...
SEP 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Something Unexpected Happens on Mars During Solar Eclipse
SEP 16, 2020
Something Unexpected Happens on Mars During Solar Eclipse
From data captured by NASA's InSight Mars Lander, researchers in Switzerland have found that Mars behaves differentl ...
NOV 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
NOV 12, 2020
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
Orca pods heavily depend on vocal communication for survival. Their unique ability to communicate with other pod members ...
JAN 21, 2021
Plants & Animals
Western Monarch Migration Near Extinction
JAN 21, 2021
Western Monarch Migration Near Extinction
Earlier this week, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reported that the western monarch butterfly populati ...
FEB 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
FEB 19, 2021
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
Although not entirely accurate, romantic sentiments such as "you're my lobster" or "you're my pen ...
MAR 05, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
MAR 05, 2021
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
The world's coral reefs face numerous threats, including climate change, pollution, and habitat loss. Since 2014, an ...
Loading Comments...