The researchers at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) have discovered that dead bodies move “significantly” during the decomposition process.
The discovery made at a “human body farm” is likely to change the way death scenes are investigated.
Prior to the revelation investigators believed how a body was found was how it died, unless it had been moved post-mortem.
Researcher Alyson Wilson used time-lapse cameras to study a cadaver decomposing in the elements outside of Sydney for 17 months.
The time-lapse camera would film the bodies at 30-minute intervals giving researchers a clear indication of the decomposition process.
‘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,’ Ms Wilson told ABC News.
She said it wouldn’t just help law enforcement in their death investigations but also in disaster investigations and also gave a victim a chance to ‘tell their last story’.
Deputy director of AFTER Dr Maiken Ueland said the implications of the discovery would be far-reaching.
‘Knowing that body movement can result from the decomposition process rather than scavengers or original placement will be important when it comes to determining what happened, particularly if this movement is much greater than first believed,’ she said in a DailyMail report.
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Another important discovery from Ms Wilson’s study was the revelation bodies left in the elements near or in Sydney would mummify under the right circumstances and at any time of the year, according to DailyMail report.
The body would also continue to mummify for at least three years.
‘It opens up the entire year for mummification in the correct circumstances, and it stops us from going down the wrong path (in investigations),’ Ms Wilson said.
The same site is also used to study animal carcasses in their various stages of decomposition and can also help train up cadaver finding dogs.