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Skin-crawling discovery: ‘body farm’ scientists find corpses move

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An Australian scientist has proved that human bodies move around significantly for more than a year after death, in findings that could have implications for detectives and pathologists around the world.

After studying and photographing the movements of a corpse over 17-months, Alyson Wilson told AFP on Friday that she found humans don’t exactly rest in peace.

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In one case study, arms that began held close to the body ended up flung out to the side.

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

To carry out her unusual form of people watching, Wilson took the three-hour flight from Cairns to Sydney every month to check on the progress of a cadaver.

Her subject was one of seventy bodies stored at the Southern Hemisphere’s only “body farm”, which sits at a secret bushland location on the outskirts of Australia’s largest city.

Officially known as the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), the farm is carrying out pioneering research into post-mortem movement.

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Wilson and her colleagues were trying to improve a commonly used system for estimating the time of death using time-lapse cameras and in the process found that human bodies actually move around significantly.

Her findings were recently published in the journal “Forensic Science International: Synergy”.

A better understanding of these movements and the rate of decomposition could be used by police to estimate time of death more accurately.

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She hopes the knowledge could, for example, narrow down the number of missing persons that could be linked to an unidentified corpse.

A better understanding of post mortem movement could also help to reduce the incorrect cause of death or misinterpretation of a crime scene.

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“They’ll map a crime scene, they’ll map the victim’s body position, they’ll map any physical evidence which is found, and they can understand the cause of death.”

The CQ University criminology graduate says she started her unique project after a trip to Mexico to help classify Mayan-era skeletal remains.

“I was fascinated with death from a child and was always interested in how the body breaks down after death.”

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“I guess that comes about from being raised on a farm and seeing livestock die and watching that process,” she said.

“Once I observed a movement in a previous study, I started researching and couldn’t find anywhere in the world that looks at quantifying the movement, so I thought OK, I’m going to do this.”

 


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2020 Election

Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead

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There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.

This article first appeared in Salon.

What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.

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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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2020 Election

The GOP is a suicide cult

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.

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