The Body Farm

The latest in my ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ series… Taken from The Great Courses’ Trails of Evidence – How Forensic Science Works lecture series (Lecture 22 – Decomposition – Bugs)

There’s a research facility at the University of Tennessee started in late 80s by a famous forensic pathologist by the name of Bass. It was set up to conduct formal studies on decomposition of cadavers. Scientists sit and observe decomposition of bodies in a range of environmental settings/conditions live, as it happens. They’ve collected 20 years of data on bodies that are submerged, wrapped in plastic, locked in car trunks, in graves, in bags, in carpet rolls. Whatever. The work has led to new improved ways of identifying age, gender, ethnicity and stature of unknown persons. But hilariously it is referred to as the Bass Anthropology Research Facility … or BARF.

(As an aside it also now has enormous electric fences all round it, not to keep out wild animals, but to keep out undergraduates who’ve enjoyed hazing new students in the Body Farm for years)

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