Find new study: More than a year after the death, the human body continues to move

Find new study: More than a year after the death, the human body continues to move


We knew that the bodies of humans (and animals) were likely to “move” a few days after death, due to the process of decomposition. But according to a recent study published by Australian researchers, these “movements” could last for several months. According to scientists, these observations are due to the process of contraction and narrowing of the ligaments. A discovery that could prove very useful in forensic investigations. So far indeed – unless it is proven that a body has been moved – doctors generally assume that the position of an uncovered body is the same as that at the time of death. This could ultimately not be the case.

Movement for at least 17 months

For this work, Australian researchers from Central Queensland University turned to AFTER, an Australian institution dedicated to the study of human remains. They placed a camera over a body in order to learn more about the body’s decomposition process. Every 30 minutes for 17 months, the camera took pictures of the deceased. And indeed, there has been movement. “What we found was that the arms moved significantly,” says Alyson Wilson, lead author of the study. So that the arms, which initially were positioned close to the body, finally found themselves apart.

“Some post-mortem movements were expected at the very beginning of the decomposition,” she continues, “but the fact that they continued for the duration of the study was a complete surprise. We believe that these movements are related to the process of decomposition, while the body is mummified and the ligaments dry out. This knowledge could be important in investigating unexplained deaths. ”

This is only a case study. But the researchers suggest that the more we analyze the response of decaying bodies over time, the longer we will be able to generate enough statistical data to facilitate the work of the investigators. On the mere observation of the position of a body, a medical examiner could indeed determine the initial position of the body, which would then help to understand what happened.