Bodies decompose on a body farm.
As anyone who watches one of the many crime scene investigation TV shows, scientists can determine when a victim is murdered by examining the evidence left by a decomposing body.
A body with less flesh on its bones is assumed to be a body that has been dead for a longer time. That's how time of death is determined, which makes a big difference in figuring out who committed the murder.
But pathologists have not taken vultures into account.
In a controlled experiment at a "body farm" in Texas, forensic anthropologists are watching corpses lying in a field and discovering how vultures are scavenging on the bodies.
They've discovered that a flock of vultures can strip the flesh from a corpse in hours, and that vultures can jump up and down on a body, breaking ribs and fooling investigators into thinking this was trauma done by a beating.
Scientists hope their work will make better models that more accurately predict time of death.
- Texas Vulture Study Upends Forensics, ABC News>>
- Sally Mann>>
- "What Remains" by Sally Mann>>
- Photo is by Sally Mann from her book Body Farm.