“Marks on a dead body could indicate violence and therefore murder. But they might have been made by legions of insects.”

Amphipods. They can cut you up.

Apparently, the tiniest of insects can mess up a crime scene.

Science Daily reports that a forensic scientist is now tracking the damage that insects cause to corpses.  This research will be used by crime scene investigators in future investigations to help determine whether injuries found on a corpse were inflicted by a human or an insect.

Very often, says Dr. Vanin, tiny creatures can cause lesions to a dead body which closely resemble injuries left by a human assailant. For example, ants which clamber over a corpse’s face can deposit marks which mimic the effects of a punch.

Dr. Vanin’s most recent discovery was found on the body of a man that drowned.  The autopsy found small abrasions on the upper eyelids, which Dr. Vanin concluded to have been caused by amphipods — eyeless crustaceans.*  Now, whenever a corpse is recovered from fresh water, investigators will have data to help explain unusual markings on the body.

In all fairness to insects, they can also help solve crimes too.  The type and stage of insect found on or near a corpse can reveal a lot about the time of death:

 The first to arrive are the necrophagous species, drawn by the strong scent of decomposition. Blow flies can invade a corpse within minutes of death, and flesh flies follow close behind. Soon after come the dermestid beetles, the same beetles used by taxidermists to clean skulls of their flesh. More flies gather, including house flies. Predatory and parasitic insects arrive to feed on the maggots and beetle larvae. Eventually, as the corpse dries, hide beetles and clothes moths find the remains.  (source)

I guess that this discovery make it a little easier to eliminate the impossible, so that whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

*I understand that crustaceans are not insects, but Science Daily didn’t bother to make the distinction, so I’m not going to either.

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~ by siouxsielaw on May 12, 2012.

2 Responses to ““Marks on a dead body could indicate violence and therefore murder. But they might have been made by legions of insects.””

  1. Fascinating! I get all my forensics training from the CSI TV shows, but this is even better. In all seriousness I find this branch if science so interesting. Thanks for a great post!

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