We need body rockin' not perfection
September 17, 2019 1:42 PM   Subscribe

"Dead bodies move while decomposing, a significant find for death investigations," according to researchers who have used time-lapse photography to study the phenomenon at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER).

Evaluating the utility of time-lapse imaging in the estimation of post-mortem interval: An Australian case study

Alyson Wilson leads world in post-mortem movements research at Australia's body farm:
Ms Wilson says post-mortem movements include arms "going out like angel wings" and an arm moving outwards before moving back "like a hand on a hip".

"There is quite a lot of movement," she said.

"As the body breaks down, the body starts to dry out, especially when the body is exposed to extreme hot and cold conditions.

"During the mummification process, ligaments dry out and shrink. This drying out causes the limbs to move."

Uniquely, there is a difference in this mummification process between a decomposing body in Australia and the northern hemisphere.
posted by mandolin conspiracy (29 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Any necromancer could have told you this, if you’d asked, “Scientist.”
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:47 PM on September 17, 2019 [32 favorites]


I want to see the timelapse video!
posted by agregoli at 1:49 PM on September 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


Uniquely, there is a difference in this mummification process between a decomposing body in Australia and the northern hemisphere.

Limbs move anticlockwise?
posted by theory at 1:59 PM on September 17, 2019 [57 favorites]


I want to see the timelapse video!

Me too! I looked around for it, but no dice so far.

Note to future self: Poking around for "decomposition" videos while nibbling on some bresaola is not recommended.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:03 PM on September 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


This was a plot point in a Pete Davidson SNL sketch.
posted by Mogur at 2:18 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I can't believe something like this hasn't been known for the last several thousand years. Like nobody has paid much attention to dead bodies until now?
posted by straight at 2:21 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]




I can't believe something like this hasn't been known for the last several thousand years. Like nobody has paid much attention to dead bodies until now?

We just called them zombies, vampires, revenants, ghosts, etc.
posted by sallybrown at 2:24 PM on September 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


I can't believe something like this hasn't been known for the last several thousand years.

What they seem to be doing here is using the time lapse observation to better estimate how long someone has been dead. It’s not so much that they’re surprised that dead people move around as they decompose, but what the implications of that movement are for forensic investigations.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:34 PM on September 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


Limbs move anticlockwise?

Creeping widdershins.
posted by pracowity at 2:39 PM on September 17, 2019 [15 favorites]


Fascinating. It also lead me to this fun little anecdote from the BMJ. I imagine that, no matter how often you see it, postmortem movement still makes one's stomach jump for just a second...
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:40 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


I want to see the timelapse video!

Nooooope Nope Nope

Nooooooooooooooooooo no no no no I do not want that.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:51 PM on September 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


This creeps me out and I will add it to the long list of reasons why I only eat them while they’re still fresh.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:10 PM on September 17, 2019 [25 favorites]


I feel I know her, but sometimes my arms bend back.
posted by Nelson at 3:45 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Does this have implications for the inevitable Weekend at Bernie’s reboot?
posted by meinvt at 3:49 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


My greatest ambition is to be one of the bodies they use to discover this stuff some day.
posted by bleep at 3:51 PM on September 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


My goals for life:

#1. Become famous enough for people to care whether I am rolling in my grave.
#2. Become rich to buy a coffin that rotates.
#3. Hook up the coffin to a webcam that shows the interior.
#4. Provide a widget that allows viewers to remotely rotate the coffin.
#5. Die.
#6. Profit.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:55 PM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


I recall seeing a time-lapse video some time ago of a body/carcass as it was consumed, mostly internally, by maggots and the like. Talk about moving. Thing was practically doing zumba.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


*Gives zombie apologists side-eye*
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


#5. Die.
#6. Profit.

#7. ???
posted by Flashman at 4:26 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


come down into the cellar
to see my
angel wings
posted by benzenedream at 4:45 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I once worked in a philosophy department where I got tasked with representing our major at the annual university recruitment fair. Next to my table was the university's forensic science recruitment display. Their program had a wooded area where they staged crime scenes and decomps, plus a murder house for analyzing spatter, etc.

As you might imagine, I spent those three hours at a conspicuously empty table, right beside a giant, eager crowd of teenagers. I should've been going around tapping my forehead and whispering, "Hey kids! Did you know that philosophy is learning how to die?"
posted by Beardman at 5:30 PM on September 17, 2019 [19 favorites]


Metafilter: consumed, mostly internally, by maggots and the like.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:16 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Nelson, corpse dancing only happens at the Red Lodge.
posted by affectionateborg at 3:05 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: I once saw a time-lapse of a dead mouse being internally consumed by maggots. It took the maggots 3 days from the first day until the mouse was an empty bit of dry skin and fur.
Before that I wondered just what point there was in the existence of flies. So many things die every day pretty much everywhere. Not everything gets eaten or buried or burned once it’s dead.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:52 AM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


"And that scientist's name? Herbert West."
posted by Quindar Beep at 5:12 AM on September 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


Peter Greenaway, please call your office.
posted by jquinby at 6:17 AM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


I may never get a better chance to link this. Here are some beautifully creepy black-and-white photography of decomposing bodies shot by photographer Sally Mann at a body farm: NSFW, NSFL -- nude decomposing human corpses.

While the bodies aren't moving in her photos, the photos moved me, if you know what I mean.
posted by wires at 6:43 AM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


My secret, fervent wish is that this paper is the unwitting result of the best ever office prank. 30 minutes between frames is so much time for havoc.
posted by cardboard at 9:28 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


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