Trust Me, I’m An Expert: forensic entomology, or what bugs can tell police about when someone died

This article was originally published on The Conversation
Maggots are a major part of the puzzle when it comes to collecting forensic evidence. Shutterstock

A few episodes ago, we heard from forensic scientists at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) – that’s the official name for what, in books and movies, they would call a body farm. It’s there, at a secret bushland site, researchers are making some surprising discoveries about how donated human bodies decompose in Australian conditions.

One of the researchers there is Professor James Wallman, Head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, and one of the nation’s few forensic entomologists.

It’s his job to unpack little clues left behind by insects – including the much maligned blowfly – that can help police solve crimes when a body is found.

Today, James Wallman explains how and why insects have a really profound influence on decomposition.

We’re also re-broadcasting a clip from Maiken Ueland, the interim director of the AFTER facility, on how research underway there is changing what we thought we knew about determining time since death.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about how to donate your body for such research, you can start here.




Read more:
‘This is going to affect how we determine time since death’: how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science


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Read more:
Trust Me, I’m An Expert: what science says about how to lose weight and whether you really need to


Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Backyard by David Szesztay from Free Music Archive

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