Corpse farms: for whom a terrible "harvest" is ripening in the fields and forests
Categories: Nature | Science | TechnologyBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/corpse-farms-for-whom-a-terrible-harvest-is-ripening-in-the-fields-and-forests
As sad as it sounds, but after death, most likely, you will no longer need your body. But scientists may well find it useful. If you want to dedicate your death to science and thereby benefit humanity, then one of the best options is to bequeath the mortal remains to the "farm of bodies" (bodyfarm). (Careful! Shocking photos.)
Thinking about the decomposition of your body during your lifetime is not very pleasant, but there are people who treat it easier than others. They do not mind that their corpse is hung from a tree, thrown into a stream, sprinkled with branches or left under a bush to be eaten by forest animals and birds. Therefore, even during their lifetime, these cranks bequeath their remains to "body farms", where their bodies are subjected by criminologists to a variety of influences.
There are six farms in the USA that study the processes that occur in the human body after death. The first of them was founded in 1971 by anthropologist William Bass. The scientist was often asked for help by the police if it was necessary to identify a poorly preserved body. Participating in the investigations, Bess realized that despite serious scientific progress in many areas, such an obvious process as the decomposition of the human body has been studied depressingly poorly.
This is what a "body farm" looks like in Tennessee
It was in order to fill this gap that William Bass founded the first landfill for corpses at the University of Tennessee. Today, after almost half a century, this "body farm" with an area of only 1 hectare continues to work and several hundred bodies on its territory help criminologists study the nature of decomposition.
The bodies on the farm are placed in conditions close to those in which the corpses of victims of crimes or accidents are located. There are bodies wrapped in wrapping film, buried in a shallow grave, submerged in water completely or partially, left in the open air or under a canopy. The polygon is a small landscape park, where there is a forest, a field, a playground overgrown with bushes and even its own river.
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The largest "body farm" in the USA is located in Texas and belongs to the university of that state. It is called "Freeman Ranch" and occupies 10.5 hectares. This is a real ranch that forensic anthropologists are forced to share with students of the Faculty of Agriculture. Specialists of different profiles get along well together - future agronomists not only do not interfere with the work of experts, but generally try to bypass their "farmlands" by the tenth road.
Freeman Ranch has a certain specificity — some of the corpses there are in metal cages so that they are not spoiled by local vultures. The other half of the bodies, on the contrary, are left unprotected so that the birds can feast enough. Thus, experts study the influence of external factors on the body in the conditions of nature.
Bodies on farms are found at every turn. They are in different conditions and lie in different poses
About 150 bodies of volunteers have already found their last resting place on a farm in Texas, founded in 2008. Scientists are waiting for the corpses of 200 more people who bequeathed their bodies to science. These people are still alive, but in case of death, a special car will arrive for their body, the crew of which will respectfully but confidently push the dead man into the trunk and take him to the Freeman Ranch.
Despite the large area, the Texas landfill is significantly inferior in the number of corpses to a farm from Tennessee. The research site founded by Bess receives about 100 bodies annually, and 3,000 more people are on the donor list.
This is how criminologists practice on farms. In the photo, future experts train to look for small body parts
Besides the USA, only one other country has such a farm — this is Australia. 48 hectares of a shrub-covered field belonging to the University of Technology Sydney have been allocated exclusively for the study of processes related to decomposition. The first three corpses were placed on a huge wasteland in February 2016 and since then the number of creepy exhibits has numbered in the hundreds.
The Australian farm is headed by Professor Shari Forbes, who has been studying... the smells of decomposition for many years. Her scientific work is of great importance for modern criminology, since it is she who underlies the training of search dogs. A young smiling woman does not look at all like the director of a landfill for the study of corpses. Shari told reporters that contrary to stereotypes, most forensic experts are women. At the University of Sydney, which owns the research site, 75% of graduating criminology students belong to the fair sex and this fact does not affect their professional qualities in any way.
Some bodies are placed in shallow graves. This is how, most often, they get rid of corpses after murders
Forbes reported that the main task facing the "body farms— is to teach specialists to determine the time of death as accurately as possible. The longer the body lies, the more difficult it is to cope with this task. When a person dies, his brain dies first. The rest of the organs continue to live for some time. It is this feature of the human body that makes it possible to transplant organs from the dead to the living.
The ability of the body to preserve life helps criminologists in their difficult work. For example, if, when struck with a hammer below the elbow, the hand of the corpse unbends, it means that the person died no more than 2-3 hours ago, and his muscle fibers still perform their functions. Rigor mortis, body temperature, as well as the presence and color of cadaveric spots that inevitably arise under the influence of gravity are also evaluated when determining the time of death.
Expert Kate Spradley, associate professor at the University of Texas, is laying out the remains at the landfill
But only two days pass and none of these indicators can be used in determining the time of death. Therefore, experts use other methods. By this point, the corpse begins to be populated by various living organisms that have certain life cycles with belt intervals known to science. Forensic entomology is a science that helps to find out the time of death by relying on insects.
The first body left in the open air is inhabited by flies. These winged insects are attracted by the smell of decomposition, which they feel at a great distance. Flies lay larvae, which pupate after a certain time and new flies appear from them. This process is repeated many times.
Criminologists know their "wards" by name. Patti Robinson has been lying on the landfill in Texas for several years
In addition to flies, the corpse is inhabited by many other small inhabitants, the type of which depends on the natural conditions in which the body turned out to be. The development of insects is influenced by the weather and some other factors that it is important for specialists to take into account when examining a corpse and insects living on it.
Also in the body there is a huge number of invisible organisms that did not make themselves felt during human life, suppressed by the immune system. Internal organs that were sterile during life are actively captured by bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria develop in the intestines that do not need oxygen. The gases they emit after a while tear the abdominal wall and oxygen-consuming bacteria come into play.
An expert examines the remains of the donor. Each bone is numbered
All these processes are well studied thanks to "body farms" and are precisely predictable in time. The microflora of corpses is also a science that criminologists study at Freeman Ranch and other landfills in the USA and Australia. The microbiological clock runs quite accurately and if you thoroughly study the patterns of life of the ecosystem of a corpse, then there are no problems with determining the time of death.
Similar studies are carried out in laboratories by placing bacterial cultures in Petri dishes and observing their development in a microscope. But this method has a number of significant limitations, since in laboratory conditions the life cycles of microorganisms are slightly different. Studying the microflora of a corpse placed in natural conditions helps to get answers to many questions much better.
A collection of human bones from the University of Texas Forensic Anthropology Research Center
Today, the determination of the time of death by microflora is only developing and the importance of farms in this matter is difficult to overestimate. The very fact of the existence of such places causes horror and disgust, but today it is impossible to do without them. Attempts to study the ecosystems of corpses on pigs, once undertaken in various institutions in the United States, did not meet expectations, and only the appearance of the Center for Forensic Anthropology at the University of Tennessee began to bring tangible results and moved criminology off the ground.
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