UT's "Body Farm" (Not for the Faint-Hearted!)

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This lead story in Chuck Shepherd's "News of the Weird" stood out to me: I had always wondered whether members of law enforcement received training such as described below. And we thought we had problems with the flies from the Buckeye Egg Plant!

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News of the Weird(tm) by Chuck Shepherd

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* A March Reuters news service story featured the University of Tennessee's "body farm," a three-acre plot near Knoxville in which 20 corpses at a time are set up to rot under various circumstances so that homicide investigators (including, recently, Yugoslav war-crimes researchers) can study the stages of the decomposition process. The farm is best worked during winter; during hot, humid months, when maggots clean a body to the bone in two weeks, the stench is overpowering.

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-- (kb8um8@yahoo.com), July 08, 2000



It makes sense to me. How can one determine time of death if one hasn't studied decomposition? These corpses were all "volunteers", right?

I had a cleaner once who called to hysterically state she wouldn't be coming. Her nephew had been found behind the wheel of his car in his garage and apparently he was decomposed to the point of a skeleton. I didn't hear the story on what happened, as she never came back again.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 08, 2000.

It is not clear from the article whether these are human corpses. That would, of course, provide the most relilable information, but it should be possible to learn some kinds of information from animal corpses, especially pigs.

This is no different from med students dissecting human cadavers, really. Not pretty, but very useful as a source of knowledge to aid the living.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), July 08, 2000.

Actually, I can see the need for having a place like this. I mean how are pathology students to learn? You simply cannot leave a corpse on a table in a lab for months.

We keep ours in freezers, so that they can be used over a long period of time. There isn't much left when we get finished with them either.

Once, I stumbled into the gross anatomy wing... Glad it was before lunch instead of after. I can honestly state that day I didn't eat lunch or dinner.

-- (Sheeple@Greener.Pastures), July 08, 2000.

As a sidebar to this subject we have a medical researcher at our local University of California campus in Irvine that has made headlines recently with his use of maggots to treat diseased areas of the human body. I think you will find his activities to be of great interest and I recommend a visit to this web site.


-- Ra (tion@l.1), July 08, 2000.

I would like to lend my two cents worth of distance experience. I authorized Autopsy for one of my Parents who died from cancer. I had been led to believe this act could further knowledge of the illness. Not so, I believe it amounted only to a a training session for newbie docs so they actually could see how a physical body was put together. The autopsy (as I understand), takes out all the inards, and they are not put back. Gutted, like a fish.

-- Cold (Marblesl@b.org), July 08, 2000.


Do you think undertakers leave them in?

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 08, 2000.

The "body farm'" is actually an ingenious idea, as far as I am concerned. The bodies used are often crime victims that are unidentifiable, or bodies that are donated by families who wish for the body to be used for research. It is the only way to accurately learn the effects of different conditions on a corpse.

-- Amanda (acrlyhed@aol.com), February 26, 2003.

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