Corpse farms in the United States

The inevitability of death is a reality that many prefer to keep out of sight and out of mind. Yet, there exists a dedicated group of scientists whose work revolves around the grim but scientifically invaluable process of human decay. This essay explores the significant contributions of forensic scientists and anthropologists who study human decomposition to enhance criminal investigations and genocide inquiries. Furthermore, it delves into the development and role of body farms, a revolutionary concept in forensic science that has greatly advanced our understanding of the decay process.

The Study of Decomposition

While the majority of society avoids discussing or even thinking about death, forensic scientists and anthropologists are deeply engrossed in understanding the decay of the human body post-mortem. Their research is crucial for solving homicides and investigating mass deaths where determining the cause, time, and conditions of death is essential. Despite their extensive knowledge, many aspects of human decomposition remain enigmatic, which continues to fuel their scientific inquiry.

Emergence of Body Farms

The concept of body farms was pioneered by Dr. William Bass in 1972 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to this, forensic experts largely relied on pig carcasses, which are physiologically similar to humans, for decomposition studies. Dr. Bass initiated the body farm after encountering a case where a seemingly fresh body was mistakenly identified as recent despite being over a century old. This incident underscored the need for more detailed research into human decomposition, leading to the establishment of the first body farm.

Operations at Body Farms

At body farms, donated human bodies are exposed to various environmental conditions to study the decomposition process. This setup allows scientists to observe and record the stages of decay under controlled yet natural settings. The bodies might be placed under different conditions like direct sunlight, shade, or water, mimicking real-life scenarios where human remains might be found. This research is invaluable in forensic science, providing insights that are impossible to obtain through traditional laboratory methods.

Contributions to Forensic Science

The insights gained from body farms have profoundly impacted forensic science. Researchers have developed better methods to estimate time of death based on decomposition gases and the conditions affecting decay. Additionally, the study of body decomposition in various environmental conditions has provided clues about whether a person was clothed at the time of death and other details pertinent to criminal investigations.

Broader Implications and Future Research

The existence of body farms has not only advanced forensic methodologies but has also contributed to the field of ecology by studying the necrobiome—the chain of organisms that feed on the decomposing bodies. This research contributes to our understanding of ecosystem dynamics and the role of decomposition in the natural cycle of life and death.


Body farms represent a significant advancement in forensic science, offering a stark view into the natural process of decay that many find disturbing. Yet, the work done at these facilities provides critical insights that aid in the resolution of crimes and deepen our understanding of human biology and death. As forensic technology and methodologies continue to evolve, the insights from body farms will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of forensic investigations.

What happens inside body farms where the dead are left out to rot. Allthatsinteresting.Com; All That’s Interesting.