Human Bodies Move For A Year After Death, Says Aussie Scientist Wilson

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In a case study, arms that began with being close to the body end up flung to the side, according to a seventeen-month long study conducted by Alyson Wilson.

Written By Divyam Jain | Mumbai | Updated On:
Human Bodies

In school, we are given to understand that the human body is full of secrets but an Australian scientist Alyson Wilson, has proved that corpses move around for more than a full year after death. These new findings could change how detectives and pathologists see their cases around the world. Her subject was a dead body at the only 'body farm'  in the southern hemisphere. Her inspiration comes from the fascination she had as a child, watching livestock die and interest in how the human body decomposes.

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Rest in Peace? Not quite

According to reports, Alyson Wilson studied and photographed movements of dead bodies over a seventeen-month period where she found that humans don't actually 'rest in peace', which has been the saying in various cultures around the world. In a case study, arms that began with being close to the body end up flung to the side. The scientist said that the movements relating to the process of decomposition as the body starts mummifying and the drying out of ligaments begin. To conduct this unusual experiment, Wilson took a 3- hour long flight every month to monitor the movement of the carcass from Cairns to the city of Sydney. 

Her subject was one of the 70 corpses retained at the Southern Hemisphere's only body farm which is situated at a confidential backwater area somewhere on the margins of Australia's biggest city. Officially known as the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), the farm is carrying out revolutionary research into post-mortem movements. Scientist Wilson and her colleagues were trying to develop a common-use system for predicting the time of death using time-lapse cameras and in the study found that human corpses move around quite a bit and do not quite 'rest in peace.'

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Improved crime investigation

Wilson's research findings were recently published in “Forensic Science International: Synergy”, a type of scientific journal. Scientist wishes that the knowledge could narrow the missing persons that might be linked to an unidentified body. A better comprehension of post mortem movement can also help decrease the wrong cause of death or misapprehension of a crime scene. The scientist also said that Police and investigators will map a crime scene, victim's position, any physical evidence found can help them possibly identify the cause of death. 

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The inspiration behind the study

The criminology graduate from CQ University said that she began her distinctive study after a Mexico trip to help classify Mayan-era remains. She was fascinated with the topic of death from childhood and was always particularly interested in how the body decomposes. Also, she thinks that it comes from being raised on a farm and seeing livestock and bovine die and just watching the process. Once she observed a movement in a previous study, she started researching and could not find anything in the world that could quantify the movement so she thought to do it.

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