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A Longitudinal Study on Human Outdoor Decomposition in Central Texas

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The development of a methodology that estimates the postmortem interval (PMI) from stages of decomposition is a goal for which forensic practitioners strive. A proposed equation (Megyesi et al. 2005) that utilizes total body score (TBS) and accumulated degree days (ADD) was tested using longitudinal data collected from human remains donated to the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF) at Texas State University‐San Marcos. Exact binomial tests examined the rate of the equation to successfully predict ADD. Statistically significant differences were found between ADD estimated by the equation and the observed value for decomposition stage. Differences remained significant after carnivore scavenged donations were removed from analysis. Low success rates for the equation to predict ADD from TBS and the wide standard errors demonstrate the need to re‐evaluate the use of this equation and methodology for PMI estimation in different environments; rather, multivariate methods and equations should be derived that are environmentally specific.
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Keywords: accumulated degree days; decomposition; forensic anthropology; forensic science; postmortem interval; scavenging; taphonomy; time since death

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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