Body Farm

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A body farm is a research facility where human decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the decomposition process, permitting the development of techniques for extracting information (such as the timing and circumstances of death) from human remains. Body farm research is particularly important within forensic anthropology and related disciplines, and has applications in the fields of law enforcement and forensic science. Five such facilities exist in the United States, with the research facility operated by Texas State University at Freeman Ranch being the largest at seven acres. The original "Body Farm" is the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility located a few miles from downtown off of Alcoa Highway in Knoxville, Tennessee, behind the University of Tennessee Medical Center. It was first started in late 1981 by anthropologist Dr. William M. Bass as a facility for study of the decomposition of human remains. Dr. Bass became head of the university's anthropology department in 1971, and as official state forensic anthropologist for Tennessee he was frequently consulted in police cases involving decomposed human remains. Since no facilities existed that specifically studied decomposition, in 1981 he opened the department's first body farm. It consists of a 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) wooded plot, surrounded by a razor wire fence. At any one time there will be a number of bodies placed in different settings throughout the facility and left to decompose. The bodies are exposed in a number of ways in order to provide insights into decomposition under varying conditions. Detailed observations and records of the decomposition process are kept, including the sequence and speed of decomposition and the effects of insect activity. There have been proposals to open body farms in other locations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Few of these have been successful as yet; for example, a facility in Las Vegas was proposed in 2003 but was unable to secure funding. The Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences at California University of Pennsylvania has entered into an agreement to operate a remote criminal investigative and forensic anthropological research facility located approximately 45 miles (72 km) southeast of the city of Pittsburgh. The Institute has access to over 200 acres (0.81 km2) that have been generously provided by Grace Lair Farm, Inc. The site will be used for training and research in the areas of crime scene investigation and forensic anthropology. There are, however, a number of issues that need to be worked out before this facility becomes operational. Roma Khan of India is taking initial steps toward establishing a body farm in India along the lines of those in the U.S. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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