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Corpses, Cadaver bugs and Climate Change

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posted on Oct, 23 2012 @ 02:04 PM
Just found this blog, think it's a scream - funny, well-written, informative. Turns out climate change is interfering with forensic pathology.

From reading my blog, you know that climate change will affect all sorts of biological systems. Now picture, without vomiting, a dead body lying outside in October, which it is unseasonably warm. Would you expect to have the same insects infesting? Would you think that perhaps if it was warmer they might develop faster, altering the estimated time since hatching and therefore time since cadaver death? Could other insects that are commonly found further south or at lower elevations suddenly be found in your cadaver?

Turns out changes in the cadaver fauna are already starting to be seen in both Europe and the US, as these insects are starting to move further north (1, 2, 3, 4). This is problematic if you are a forensic entomologist, because you can no longer use these insects as indications of where the body started its decomposition (ok, this might shock you, but people sometimes move dead bodies). Also, some larvae at certain stages move away from eating flesh and start grazing on the other cadaver-eating insects. If they are particularly voracious, they may completely clear the body of these other insects making it more difficult to identify when the person died. Grossed out yet?

So not only is climate change going to affect us in our lives, but it will follow us into our deaths. Let’s just hope it doesn’t find a way to mess up the afterlife. I have big plans to annoy climate deniers when I’m a ghost: making the walls bleed crude oil, leaving traces of the famous CO2 hockey stick in the mirror and moaning “Al Gore is your earth mother” in the middle of the night. And also switching their regular coffee for decaf.

posted on Oct, 23 2012 @ 02:13 PM
If someone messes with my coffee, I don't care if they are a ghost. I will lay some paranormal pain down on them.

Anyway, that's pretty cool. I don't doubt there will be some noticeable differences with the insects. But I find it hard to believe it will prevent them from determining an accurate time of death.

posted on Oct, 23 2012 @ 06:49 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

I find it hard to believe it will prevent them from determining an accurate time of death.

The main issue is PLACE of death, not time - forensic pathologists often identify the insect species in/on the corpse to determine the location where a death occurred (because murderers sometimes move bodies, and insects tend to stay close to home). ...As the climate changes, insects expand their territory - so they're no longer an accurate indicator.

Hope that clarifies.

edit on 23/10/12 by soficrow because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 24 2012 @ 05:53 AM
reply to post by soficrow

Ok, I'm tracking with you.

I used to want to be an entamologist when I was a kid, not so much anymore. But bugs are still really cool.

I could see that being a problem, somewhere like Colorado you could move a body from a mountain forest to open prairie in an hour drive.

posted on Oct, 24 2012 @ 05:57 AM
Funny you should post this. This weekend I was watching 'Corpse Bride' by Tim Burton on TV. I was curious about how long it takes a body to decompose so my husband and I googled up some info. Turns out that a lot of bodies turn to 'CORPSE SOUP' in the coffin. The body kind of is like a water balloon for a while. All sloshy and sludge inside. Later on - some caskets actually explode because of the gases that the bodies let off while sealed in a casket. All wild stuff ...

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