UT Body Farm study on decomposition could affect court cases worldwide

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A new study at the University of Tennessee Anthropology Research Facility, also known as the Body Farm, could have far reaching effects on court cases worldwide.

The university says the research shows humans have different decomposition rates than pigs and and rabbits. Forensic court cases have routinely used animal models to estimate times since death, largely because access to human subjects was not available. UT researchers say that could lead to flawed results because decomposition rates, insect activity and scavenger activity vary greatly between humans and animals.

“This research provides guidance to lawyers and judges concerning the admissibility of testimony by anthropologists and entomologists,” said Dawnie Steadman, the project’s lead principal investigator and director of the UT Forensic Anthropology Center.

The work was funded by the National Institute of Justice.

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