The effect of body size on the rate of decomposition in a temperate region of South Africa

Show simple item record Sutherland, Anátulie Myburgh, Jan G. Steyn, Maryna Becker, Piet J. 2013-10-30T06:07:41Z 2013-10-30T06:07:41Z 2013-09
dc.description.abstract Forensic anthropologists rely on the state of decomposition of a body to estimate the post-mortem- interval (PMI) which provides information about the natural events and environmental forces that could have affected the remains after death. Various factors are known to influence the rate of decomposition, among them temperature, rainfall and exposure of the body. However, conflicting reports appear in the literature on the effect of body size on the rate of decay. The aim of this project was to compare decomposition rates of large pigs (Sus scrofa; 60–90 kg), with that of small pigs (<35 kg), to assess the influence of body size on decomposition rates. For the decomposition rates of small pigs, 15 piglets were assessed three times per week over a period of three months during spring and early summer. Data collection was conducted until complete skeletonization occurred. Stages of decomposition were scored according to separate categories for each anatomical region, and the point values for each region were added to determine the total body score (TBS), which represents the overall stage of decomposition for each pig. For the large pigs, data of 15 pigs were used. Scatter plots illustrating the relationships between TBS and PMI as well as TBS and accumulated degree days (ADD) were used to assess the pattern of decomposition and to compare decomposition rates between small and large pigs. Results indicated that rapid decomposition occurs during the early stages of decomposition for both samples. Large pigs showed a plateau phase in the course of advanced stages of decomposition, during which decomposition was minimal. A similar, but much shorter plateau was reached by small pigs of >20 kg at a PMI of 20–25 days, after which decomposition commenced swiftly. This was in contrast to the small pigs of <20 kg, which showed no plateau phase and their decomposition rates were swift throughout the duration of the study. Overall, small pigs decomposed 2.82 times faster than large pigs, indicating that body size does have an effect on the rate of decomposition. en_US
dc.description.librarian hb2013 en_US
dc.description.sponsorship University of Pretoria and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa. en_US
dc.description.uri en_US
dc.identifier.citation Sutherland, A, Myburgh, J, Steyn, M & Becker, PJ 2013, 'The effect of body size on the rate of decomposition in a temperate region of South Africa', Forensic Science International, vol. 231, no. 1-3, pp. 257-262. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0379-0738 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1872-6283 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.05.035
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Elsevier en_US
dc.rights © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.Notice : this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Forensic Science International. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Forensic Science International, vol. 231, no.1-3, 2013, doi : 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.05.035 en_US
dc.subject Forensic anthropology en_US
dc.subject Post-mortem-interval en_US
dc.subject Decomposition en_US
dc.subject Total body score en_US
dc.subject Body size en_US
dc.title The effect of body size on the rate of decomposition in a temperate region of South Africa en_US
dc.type Postprint Article en_US

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