TechDead can dance: Remarkable findings of body movements persisting 17 months after death

Dead can dance: Remarkable findings of body movements persisting 17 months after death

The human body moves even a year after death.
The human body moves even a year after death.
Images source: © Unsplash
4:58 AM EST, December 25, 2023

AFTER is a distinguished institution dedicated to forensic taphonomy. It focuses on the study of human remains, aiming to understand the challenges associated with the physical, chemical, and biological decomposition processes of human bodies. The bodies that arrive at this institution are from "donors" who, during their lifetime, consented to the utilization of their bodies for scientific research post-mortem.

What occurs in the human body after death?

In her research, Wilson utilized time-lapse cameras to capture the decomposition of a donor's body, taking shots at 30-minute intervals for a span of 17 months. Wilson's study revealed unexpected findings; the decomposing body performed assorted movements, including arm motions, attributed to the shrinking of ligaments as they dried. However, what astounded researchers was not the dead body's movement but the observation that these movements could persist even 17 months after death.

Scientists have long theorized that bodies move post-mortem, attributing the movement to scavenging insects' activity and gas accumulation within the body. Yet, Wilson’s research has illuminated these notions in a fresh light, notably being the first instance where bodies have been documented with time-lapse cameras at 30-minute intervals.

The outcomes of these studies may have considerable implications for future forensic investigations. In an interview with abc.net.au, Wilson emphasized, "it's significant for victims and their families, and in many instances, it allows the victim to narrate their final story". Knowing about corpse movements can significantly aid in accurately determining the place, time, and cause of death. Until these studies, the prevalent assumption was that the position in which a body was found was the position at the moment of death, barring any evidence that the body was moved posthumously by other humans or animals.

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