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Deana_joe 08-25-2005 09:53 AM

Forensics Project
I am looking for an organic source that will best replicate a decomposing human (and not cause ethical problems) for a science fair project in forensic entomology. I would also appreciate any ideas on odor control. Would the use of fruits or vegetables suffice?

Student: 9th grade
Interests: Forensic Science

Thank You

Mad Scientist 08-25-2005 08:50 PM

Hmm, that's a pretty sophisticated project that you've got for yourself!

Here's a decent link to help you with the controls [url][/url]

Also, checkout [url][/url] for some ideas.

I'll have to find out more about the comparative rates of decomposition of the human body, but instinctively, I suppose larger animals (eg. mammals) would be the closest - although you really can't use those for your project! Will let you know if I find anything else.

Archenemy550 08-25-2005 10:12 PM

You may be able to go to a butcher shop and get left over Pig parts (proably for free)..... although i dont know if the rules allow that.

As for Oder i would build a small glass case {plexiglass} and seal it so it is airtight. It will smell really really bad.

Plus you will keep unwanted animals away.

Biogradstudent 08-27-2005 06:46 PM

Since it's a science fair project in forensic entomology, I'm assuming you're going to be looking at the bugs?

The composition of the body is very different than plants (fruits+vegs) in terms of protein/carbohydrates/sugars, so I would agree with Archenemy that pork is the closest replica. You can just go to the supermarket to buy pork. It may be interesting to compare between decaying meat + decaying fruits/veg to see what happens! You need to put them in separate containers and see whether mold or bugs infests it first, and what type of decomposition occurs.

Odor - placing a box of baking soda will take away the odors without affecting your experiment.

Container- It will be very important to seal your experiment, so that no bugs from outside of the box/container gets in, so you know that the bugs that appear are ones that were already on the meat before you put it in. A clear one, as Archenemy suggested, will be ideal, so you can observe what is happening. If you don't have a tight lid (like a tupperware), I would suggest putting plastic wrap over it with tape to seal it.

Disposal - it will be pretty nasty after a few days, so be cautious not to open the container. You may not want to keep the container after the experiment.

Another variable - it may be interesting to see the rate at which meat decomposes in the fridge/freezer (if you do put it in the fridge, make sure it's tightly closed!!!) vs. at room temperature or at a high temperature (ie - noon time outside)

Mad Scientist 08-28-2005 09:59 AM

Thanks very much Archenemy and Biogradstudent for your excellent contributions. Deana, hope you have all the answers that you need. Do experiment with the various variables suggested by Archenemy and Biogradstudent - and be sure to tell us how your experiment goes!

All the best! ;)

Mad Scientist 09-01-2005 12:37 AM

Have you decided?
Do you still need any help on your project? Do tell us what you've decided to do! we're interested to know! :)

Deana_joe 09-04-2005 07:51 AM

Sorry for the delay in replying but we have been caught in Hurricane Katrina and had no power for several long days.

I am going to use the pork idea and just deal with the smell. The container has to be opened to attract the flies, and other bugs. So I will try the baking soda (or gas mask) to mask the smell.

Can anyone give me an easily accessible mixture to preserve bugs and larve?

I thank you for all your helpful ideas that help make this project not quite so daunting.

I will post again when I finish to tell you all the results. I promise not to make it scatch and sniff.


ram 09-06-2005 04:14 AM

the easiest way to preserve biological specimen is by soaking it in formalin. You may want to use small bottles (vials) which can be sealed to prevent evaporation of formalin/ control its smell from spreading.

Archenemy550 09-07-2005 03:42 PM

Either that or formaldehyde... if you can get a hold of it.

However if you inhale above 0.1 PPM, it can trigger asthma attacks. It will also burn your eyes, throat, give you runny nose, and can cuase Nausea.

wisteria 10-10-2005 12:13 AM

just trying to help
what is a 0.1 PPM? anyway does it have to be a decomposing human corps :eek: yuk :o

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