Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Six unusual forensic techniques

Over at Kill Zone Blog, a post by Sue Coletta, Six Unusual Forensic Techniques

This caught my eye because of all those archaeology and forensic anthropology mysteries by Beverly Connor. Figured this topic would tie right in to those. I will say, what we have here imo is five at-least-somewhat-unusual forensic techniques and one that I kinda thought absolutely everybody knew already, like so:

1) Teeth show time of death.

Twice a year each permanent tooth is anchored to the gums by tiny, distinct fibers. A bright line is laid in the spring or summer, depending on where you live, and a dark line in the fall or winter. The number of bands, as well as the color and width of the outermost ring, help scientists estimate the deceased’s age at death and also narrows the TOD (time of death) window.

Interesting! Just like tree rings! I had no idea.

2) Plants grow better when a dead body is buried nearby.

I knew this, because (a) I’ve encountered this detail in mysteries before; and (b) we should all remember from grade school about how the Native Americans buried dead fish below corn, right? I’m sure it was more complicated than that in real life, but the basics of burying dead animals under gardens is not that unfamiliar. But I grant, when admiring someone’s flower beds, if one shows nicer, lusher growth than the others, most of us probably wouldn’t tend to leap to the conclusion that they’d buried a body there. At least not unless I already had reason to be suspicious.

3) Rats and squirrels help determine date of death.

Coletta says insects too, but I think everyone knows that. However, I am startled to find that squirrels will chew on dry bones. Not astonished — after all, lots of herbivores will eat calcium when they get a chance — but still. I knew porcupines will chew on and eat shed antlers. I wonder if squirrels will too?

4) Mosquitoes preserve portions of the DNA of a body they feed on.

Wow. Had NO idea. That’s kinda … neat? In a creepy way.

5) Decomposition follows a set process.

Okay now come on. Everyone knows this. A hundred — a thousand — murder mystery plots depend on the killer doing something to confuse that process. That is roughly the single most typical way of throwing the detectives off the trail. Definitely not the least bit unusual. IMO. Anybody disagree?

And finally —

6) Drones help find buried remains.

Okay, welcome to the future. I wonder if drones are better than dogs? I bet not — as long as you have a rough idea of where the dogs should be searching.

Interesting post — click through and read all about it.

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