Friday 16 September 2011

The Body Farm

The new forensic offering from the BBC, The Body Farm, aired for the first time on Tuesday. It revolves around the forensic pathologist from Waking the Dead, Eve Lockhart, setting up a new facility for taphonomic research for forensic purposes. The facility is ostensibly like the Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville - more famously referred to as 'The Body Farm' - athough it appears to be set in decidely dingy premises. The original Body Farm is a huge, open space where forensic anthropology research is undertaken into all aspects of human decomposition. Luckily, there is a long waiting list of people prepared to donate their bodies to be buried, wrapped in duvets and binbags, hanged from trees, strapped into cars, or left in one of many other deposition methods, for the sake of advancing forensic science.
In the UK, this sort of facility exists, at the moment, only in fiction. It seems that our small, densely populated, opinionated nation is not ready for the ethical and moral onslaught of a human taphonomy facility. However, there are a couple of similar facilities that exist for the study of decomposition of animal analogues for humans - mainly pig cadavers. The Forensic Fieldwork Facility at Cranfield University is one of these two. The other is at UCLAN. The sites are invaluable for providing research opportunities into a wide range of conditions which can affect decomposition rate, and can therefore impact on accurate post-mortem interval and post-deposition interval estimation.
I eagerly await the next installment of the BBC series...what will happen next?

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