Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Microbial Death Clock


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. 
http://www.sciencemag.org.silk.library.umass.edu/news/2016/03/how-death-microbes-can-help-police-solve-crimes.



9 comments:

  1. This is really interesting. I never knew that scientists were discovering another way other than rigor mortis to tell when a person had died. Do you think we will actually be able to discover the exact time of death in the future?

    Caitlyn Cordaro (1)

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    1. Caitlyn,
      I hope so! I feel like science is always advancing and hopefully with more experience and research on this topic will allow the exact time of death to be found.

      Cara (3)

      Delete
  2. These advances make you wonder how anyone can get away with anything nowadays. Hopefully this advance changes the field as drastically as DNA analysis back in the day.

    Allen Currier

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    Replies
    1. Allen,
      I agree. DNA discovery opened so many doors for forensics. Thanks for the comment!

      Cara Murphy (3)

      Delete
  3. This particular branch of microbiology and forensics seems to be very promising. The entry of microbes in a deceased corpse is logically quite consistent because microbes are everywhere. It's possible that this method of calculating time of death will make the other methods previously mentioned obsolete.

    Posted by: Forootan Alizadehasil

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    Replies
    1. Forootan,
      I am curious to see what this has to offer in the future. I bet this branch of forensics will become the most reliable for time of death.

      Cara Murphy (3)

      Delete
  4. This is so cool. I took a forensic science class in high school and we only really were taught about rigor mortis and entomology to determine the amount of time since death. It's really exciting to see that the science is advancing to something even more accurate and precise.

    Emily Mueller (Group 2)

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    Replies
    1. Emily,
      I did as well and never heard of anything like this to determine time of death. Thanks for your interest!

      Cara Murphy (3)

      Delete
  5. Wow, it's amazing how far forensic science has gotten. Solving cases that were unsolved for many years and now using microbes to determine time of death.

    David (2)

    ReplyDelete