Search results for "decomposition"

  • Stages of decomposition


  • Stages of Decomposition

    Decomposition of a corpse is a continual process that can take from weeks to years, depending on the environment. In this website we have divided the process into stages, which are characterised by particular physical conditions of the corpse and the presence of particular animals. To illustrate the process of decomposition, we use the piglet as the model corpse. Piglets are used because a 40 kg pig resembles a human body in its fat distribution, cover of hair and ability to attract insects. These factors make pigs the next best things to humans when it comes to understanding the process of decay of the human body. The pigs in this website are newborn piglets (weighing about 1.5 kg) that have been accidentally crushed by their mothers - a key cause of death of piglets. Their bodies have been donated to science. Please note - this set of images contain strong graphic references and descriptions.

  • Decomposition - glossary and references

    A glossary of key words and definitions relating to decomposition, including a list of references used in researching material about decomposition.

  • Decomposition - Succession

    The environment provided by a dead body changes with time. 

  • Decomposition - Corpse Fauna

    Many kinds of organisms live by feeding on dead bodies. 

  • Decomposition - Body Changes

    Death begins when the heart stops beating. Deprived of oxygen, a cascade of cellular death commences. 

  • Decomposition - Corpse Fauna

    Many kinds of organisms live by feeding on dead bodies. In the process, their activities result in the decomposition of the body and the recycling of nutrients. The dominant groups of organisms involved in decomposition are bacteria, flies, beetles, mites and moths. Other animals, mainly parasitoid wasps, predatory beetles and predatory flies, feed on the animals that feed on the corpse. A dead body is therefore an ecosystem of its own, in which different fauna arrive and depart from the corpse at different times. The arrival time and growth rates of insects inhabiting corpses are used by forensic scientists to determine the circumstances surrounding suspicious deaths. Please note - this gallery contains strong graphic images and descriptions.

  • Stage 1: The living pig


  • Decomposition - Forensic Evidence

    The presence of animals on a corpse can provide information for investigators on some of the circumstances surrounding death. 

  • Decomposition: fly life cycle and development times

    The presence of insects in a corpse is a critical clue towards estimating the time of death for bodies dead for longer periods of time.

  • Notes on a collection of igneous rocks from Lord Howe Island


  • Fly puparia


  • Black putrefaction - 10 to 20 days after death


  • Putrefaction - 4 to 10 days after death


  • Stage 4: Black putrefaction - 10 to 20 days after death