This report presents the methodology and findings of a field study of postmortem decay and arthropod succession in human and pig cadavers.
The test units included one unembalmed, unautopsied human subject (male approximately 175 pounds) and three freshly killed pigs (females approximately 50 pounds) placed on the research facility grounds at the University of Tennessee. The subjects were studied with the use of five collection methods (aerial, pitfall, sticky trap, hand-gathered, and larval hand-gathered); the hand collection and live larval collections were combined during data analysis. The findings show that pig will adequately provide insect fauna data for the initial portion of decomposition of human remains for approximately 10-12 days during mid-summer in the eastern central United States. It is suspected that greater mass of the surrogate animal would be necessary to parallel the human to duration of the decomposition; therefore, testing of a larger animal with human remains will be needed to address the issue fully. Data on what calliphorid species are present in eastern Tennessee during mid-summer has been generated in this study. Five common species were recovered over the 35-day study. They are Phaenicia coeruleiviridis, Phaenicia sericata, Phormia regina, Lucilia illustris, and Cochliomyia macellaria. Data derived from this study have been used in case studies in Tennessee, and they have been important in several high profile court cases across Tennessee in both district and Federal courts. 8 figures and 15 references
Date Published: January 1, 1996