Ever wonder what really happens to your body after you die? In order to learn more about the decomposition process, scientists have started creating “body farms”, in which recently deceased bodies are placed outdoors and monitored throughout their process of decay.
Even Now, We Know Very Little About Decay
Shockingly, our knowledge about decomposition has been extremely limited until recently. “Through the 1970s, forensic scientists still largely relied on research involving pig carcasses when consulting on criminal cases and attempting to determine the all-important post-mortem interval — the time between when a person dies and when his or her body is found. No one had ever watched a human body decay in a controlled setting firsthand,” states one article.
To remedy the situation, anthropologist William Bass founded the first body farm at the University of Tennessee in the 1980s. Since then, he and his team have processed over 650 bodies and have inspired other body farms to be developed in North Carolina and Illinois, which aim to study how regional climate differences affect decomposition. At all facilities, bodies are “processed” by being placed into outdoor fields under metal cages, monitored and documented throughout their decay.
Body Farms Have Incredible Benefits
Through the studies and research done at these body farms, scientists and law enforcement officials alike are learning more about how to identify different stages of decomposition and glean insights about the bodies found at crime scenes or discovered under unusual circumstances.
And while a dead body farm may sound like something from a nightmare, they’re helping to teach us more about our own bodies and advance our knowledge about the end of the human lifecycle.
All About Perspective
As one article aptly states, “Aside from those who choose to be cremated, it’s simply part of the cycle of life and death within every ecosystem — upon death, nutrients will be harvested to create or sustain other life. So, really, there are two ways of viewing a dead body farm: either vile and macabre, or simply a part of life.”
See some of the bodies at the Texas body farm below. WARNING: The video below contains very graphic photos of deceased bodies, so viewer discretion is advised.