Decomposition Rate and Pattern in Hanging Pigs

Lynch-aird, Jeanne Elizabeth, Moffatt, Colin and Simmons, Tal Linda Ileen (2015) Decomposition Rate and Pattern in Hanging Pigs. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 60 (5). pp. 1155-1163. ISSN 00221198

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Accurate prediction of the postmortem interval requires an understanding of the decomposition process and the factors acting upon it. A controlled experiment, over 60 days at an outdoor site in the northwest of England, used 20 freshly killed pigs (Sus scrofa) as human analogues to study decomposition rate and pattern. Ten pigs were hung off the ground and ten placed on the surface. Observed differences in the decomposition pattern required a new decomposition scoring scale to be produced for the hanging pigs to enable comparisons with the surface pigs. The difference in the rate of decomposition between hanging and surface pigs was statistically significant (p = 0.001). Hanging pigs reached advanced decomposition stages sooner, but lagged behind during the early stages. This delay is believed to result from lower variety and quantity of insects, due to restricted beetle access to the aerial carcass, and/or writhing maggots falling from the carcass.

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