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The Influence of Penetrative Trauma on the Rate of Decomposition

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An understanding of the factors affecting decomposition is important for the accurate estimation of postmortem interval. An experimental study on the influence of penetrating trauma on decomposition rate was carried out using the domestic pig, Sus scrofa. The results of this study were: (i) Diptera were preferentially attracted to and oviposited at natural orifices. Trauma sites were not preferentially selected for oviposition; (ii) no differences between trauma and non-trauma groups were found in time to skeletonization, weight loss (p = 0.906), total body score (p = 0.824), body temperature (p = 0.967), or changes in soil pH (p = 0.684); and (iii) the effect of investigator disturbance was significant when decomposition was measured as weight loss (p = 0.000). This study suggests that penetrating trauma of the type used in this study cannot be considered a major factor in the rate of decomposition and time to skeletonization of a gunshot trauma victim.
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Keywords: arthropods; decomposition; forensic anthropology; forensic science; taphonomy; trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Forensic and Investigative Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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