An area of about one hectare near the city of Knoxville, in the United States, wants to be the largest testing ground for human corpses in different stages of decomposition. It is not a landscape for a serial killer, but a way of studying in detail under what conditions and how corpses decompose.
It is not the only one, although there are very few fields like this: there are only six in the US, two in Australia and one in the Netherlands. Their names: taphonomy centers , the part of paleontology that studies fossilization processes and the formation of fossil deposits.
The art of decomposition
The study of the decomposition of human corpses is not trivial: unsolved police cases could benefit enormously from the information obtained in these study centers.
And is that the rate at which the decomposition of a corpse takes place is affected by various variables, such as temperature and humidity, as well as the method used by the murderer to dispose of the body .
While many studies have been done on these processes with tissues from pigs and other animals, it is not the same as studying the decomposition process in the human body itself, so not as much useful data is obtained .
Among other data, for example, it has been discovered that more than 400 different volatile organic compounds are released during the decomposition process of the human body, according to a study carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Leuven ( Belgium). The research has been published in the journal Plos One . Specifically, the “corpse smell” is made up of 452 volatile organic compounds (with only 5 different compounds compared to pigs and only 8 from other animals).
The chemical reactions that take place in your body after you die also produce compounds with funny names, such as putrescine (which creates an odor in rotten meat) and cadaverine (the smell of decomposing corpses).
To these smells, others can also be added, such as the smell of excrement . Because, even three hours after death, humans can expel fecal matter and flatulence as a result of muscle contraction and swelling of the corpse prior to rigor mortis.
Everything is for the next Sherlock Holmes to find the murderer.