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"Body Farm" Study Shows Corpses Move for Months After Death

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Cairns mum Alyson Wilson flies thousands of kilometres every month so she can continue tracking the arm and leg movements of a ‘human donor’ in bushland at Australia’s body farm, on the outskirts of Sydney.

The body has been moving for 17 months and Alyson’s time-lapse camera has been recording all that time.

It’s believed that no-one else in the world is researching ‘post-mortem movement’ in this way.

“We think the movements relate to the process of decomposition, as the body mummifies and the ligaments dry out,” she says.

“This knowledge could be significant in unexplained death investigations.”

Alyson needs to visit the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (known as AFTER) on a monthly basis, to change the camera batteries and download data.

Originally a Criminology graduate, Alyson started her unique project as a Medical Science undergraduate at CQUniversity.

She also took the opportunity to visit Mexico in January this year, to help classify Mayan-era skeletal remains at the archaeology laboratory at the ‘Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas’ in the city of Chiapa de Corzo.

Alyson is now continuing as a Bachelor of Science (Honours) student with CQUni and hopes to complete a PhD on her way to a career in forensic anthropology.

She had a confidence boost recently through publication of her initial undergraduate research findings in an international journal, in an article titled Evaluating the utility of time-lapse imaging in the estimation of post-mortem interval: An Australian case study.

Evaluating the utility of time-lapse imaging in the estimation of post-mortem interval: An Australian case study. Alyson Wilson, Stanley Serafin, Dilan Seckiner, Rachel Berry, Xanthé Mallett. Forensic Science International: Synergy, Volume 1, 2019, Pages 204-210, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsisyn.2019.08.003.

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