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The Forensicality of Human Death - Essay Example

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Forensicality of Death In terms of the forensicality of human death there are a number of stage of physical decomposition. The elements of this decomposition are essential aspects of the natural life cycle and have been used by forensic investigators as a means of determining time of death…
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Download file to see previous pages When investigating the forensic aspects of death investigators recognize that there are a variety of elements that contribute to the overarching period of body decomposition. Among these elements include temperature and environment. There are also a number of internal factors affecting the body’s decomposition. For instance, it’s recognized that the amount of fat on the body, as well as the deceased general level of drug use, all contribute to the speed with which the body decomposes. As a result investigators must consider these aspects when determining time of death. Within this understanding, there are a variety of general stages that have demonstrated to be indicative of body composition. The first stage of human decomposition is referred to as the fresh stage. This stage begins after the heart stops and is generally recognized as occurring directly after human death. During this stage of decomposition the body is affected by gravity as the blood drains down to dependent portions of the corpse. This results in the body turning to a bluish purple color. This process is referred to as lividity or livor mortis. Within the fresh stage the body muscle tissue becomes rigid and stolid; this is referred to as rigor mortis. Rigor mortis sets in approximately three to six hours after death. During this period of muscle hardening the body is gradually losing heat, undergoing a process referred to as algor mortis. As the fresh stage takes place the body demonstrates no major outward signs of decomposition, but internally microbial organisms begins to digest organs. Forensic scientists are further able to identify the fresh stage of decomposition through the arrival of specific insects. The first insects noted to arrive are Calliphoridae, also known as blowflies (Schmitt 2006). The next insects to arrive are Sarcophagidae and Muscidae. These insects all lay eggs in various body orifices upon arriving at the decomposing body (Schmitt 2006). The accumulation of the effects of the fresh stage results in a bloating appearance. This leads the body to decompose to the next stage of physical deterioration, referred to as the bloat stage. During the bloat stage the body demonstrates the first major outward signs of decomposition, with notable microbial infestation appearing on the outside of the corpse. It’s noted that during this stage anaerobic metabolism occurs with “the accumulation of gases such as hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, and methane” (Stevens 1996, pg. 636). It is the accumulation of these gases that fills various bodily cavities and results in the body’s bloated appearance. This process also results in the body’s liquids to take on a froth like composition. Internal pressure with the corpse during this period results in these internal liquids leaving the body through the various bodily orifices. These liquids also can cause tears in the skin. It’s also noted that, “intestinal anaerobic bacteria transform haemoglobin into sulfhemoglobin and other coloured pigments” (Stevens, pg. 636). These gases accumulate and move throughout the body and give the corpse a marble-like appearance. Major insect infestations occur during this period. As the body enters the bloat stage the eggs that were laid during the fresh stage hatch and maggots begins feeding the bodily remains. The major maggot feeding occurs beneath the skin and causes aspects of the outward hair and skin to deteriorate and detach from the original bodily structure. During ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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