When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

eyes on the U.S.

At A Texas Body Farm, Studying The Decay Of Donated Corpses

American forensics researchers place human corpses in so-called "body farms" to study their decomposition for a variety of sometimes surprising reasons.

Texas students working on the skeleton of a donated corpse
Texas students working on the skeleton of a donated corpse
Kai Kupferschmidt

HUNTSVILLE — In the shadows of pine trees, a woman in a white overalls leans over the dead body of a fat, naked man. She brushes his cheek with a cotton swab, as eight scientists look on. "Can you apply a bit more pressure, to get some DNA?" one scientist asks. Adds another, "but not too much, don't harm the skin."

It's been a week since the body was placed here. Two tattoos and a scar are reminiscent of the life he must have lived. But the scientists don't care about the past. They're interested in what happens to the body after death, when bacteria, protozoans and fungus will entirely decompose the body over the next couple of weeks. They eat through the skin that once felt, the heart that once beat, the nerve cells that recorded all kinds of memories. For nature, the corpse is a source of nutrients — nitrogen, potassium, sulfate and other elements, dissipated bit by bit. Dust to dust.

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

People walk by a mall destroyed by Russian shelling in Irpin, Ukraine. More than 300 civilians died in this city close to Kyiv. A month after the Russian troops’ withdrawal, its inhabitants are gradually returning to their devastated homes.

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Bonjour!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia declares victory in Mariupol as the 82-day siege ends, Biden’s administration lifts some Trump-era restrictions on Cuba and NASA’s rover starts digging around for life on Mars. Meanwhile, America Economia explains how blockchain technology could take the cannabis business to an all-time high.

[*French]

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ