JAN 18, 2016 10:44 AM PST
The Science Behind Death
WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 8 1248

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.

Outdoor forensic anthropology research labs are often referred to as "body farms," a sensational moniker that's not actually literal. There are currently six facilities of this nature in the United States.

Using donated bodies, scientists here study the rate of human decomposition in various conditions. Although human remains go through the same stages of decomposition, how fast this process takes depends largely on where decomposition takes place. Here, researchers do not miss any single detail of how a body turns to dust, including the indescribable scent of decomposition. Watch the video to learn more about how forensic anthropologists investigate the smells of decomposing bodies.
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
MAY 06, 2018
Videos
MAY 06, 2018
How Viruses Can Treat Cancer
Viruses' that are genetically modified can be used to treat cancer. This modification removes two key genes in the viruses' genome. The first gene removed
MAY 08, 2018
Videos
MAY 08, 2018
Virtual Reality Theme Park Opens in China
China's first virtual reality theme park, called Oriental Science Fiction Valley, opened at the end of April 2018. It has a sci-fi focus and offers guests
MAY 08, 2018
Videos
MAY 08, 2018
How NASA Could Study Titan's Oceans
NASA has an interest in exploring Titan's oceans and plans to take an unconventional approach to studying them: send an interplanetary submarine to dive de
MAY 24, 2018
Videos
MAY 24, 2018
E-cigarette Flavoring Disrupts Lung Cells
E-cigarette users may not know that what they are inhaling has probably not been tested to see what health effects it has. New research has indicated that
MAY 26, 2018
Videos
MAY 26, 2018
Some Genes Become Active After Death
Scientists have found that some genes are still active after death, when some cells haven't gotten the signal that the organism is no longer alive. Some ge
JUN 17, 2018
Videos
JUN 17, 2018
These Are the World's Largest Life Forms
Life forms throughout Earth’s history come in all different shapes and sizes, but have you ever wondered which ones were the largest? Mountain ash tr
Loading Comments...