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.
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