The field of forensics has evolved tremendously over the years. The discovery and knowledge of DNA has made forensics far more precise and accurate. To help figure out the unsolved crime along with DNA evidence, time of death has always been an important factor. Originally rigor mortis, temperature, and insects were the most reliable source to determine time of death. In resent findings, microbes that arrive on the corpse after death seem to present themselves in a familiar pattern. This pattern can be traced and analyzed to make benchmarks for future deaths.
Jessica Metcalf from the University of Colorado Boulder has been researching this phenomenon in mice. In research, her error was only two to four days from actual time of death. Further research was performed on deceased humans. A major pattern was presented in early decay of the corpse. The microbial families of Moraxellaceae and Acinetobacter were first discovered on the corpse. As time passed, the Rhizobiaceae family broke down nitrogen sources, and then began multiplying. From the gases of the body, aerobic species began to flourish. Worms multiplied and fed on what the Rhizobiaceae family released from the body. Since this discovery, many of the human cadavers follow this same pattern.
Essentially the main goal of this research is to create a concrete statistical model that can accurately state the time of death of an individual. Hopefully with this discovery, this model will be used to help solve more crimes in the future.
Posted by: Cara Murphy (3)
Kupferschmidt, Kai. "How ‘death Microbes’ Can Help Police Solve Crimes." Science (2016). Web. 3 Apr. 2016.