Decomposition in a nutshell (and why a dead body is really still alive)

Learn Something New Every Day – Lecture 20 – Death Investigators

Decomposition happens when the absence of metabolism in the dead body causes cells to start dying and then they domino to cause the collapse of organs and body systems.

But if not for bacteria in our bodies, decomp would take much longer.

Essentially, on a normal day the average healthy human body has more bacterial cells on and in it than the total number of its own cells. But our bodies have checks to keep the numbers down (various forms of excretion, primarily, and our immune system) or to keep them contained to a particular area.

But after death all bets are off. It is a bacterial field day. There is nothing to contain the cells that can self-reproduce every 20 mins and, with unlimited access in all parts of the body to the entire body as an energy source, they get straight into massive and rampant reproduction. The bacterial frat party to end all parties. Thriving, changing, evolving bacterial processes long after the body is dead.

Thus, after death a body can potentially have more life in it than before.

So…if bacteria cobined to form super-organisms mabye they COULD create zombies from the living ‘sleeve’ of an ex-human being?

‘Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works” is a The Great Courses DVD lecture series