AN INVESTIGATION OF THE TAPHONOMIC EFFECTS OF ANIMAL SCAVENGING
Numerous environmental and human-induced variables that affect decomposition can cloud accurate estimations of the postmortem interval (PMI). For instance, scavenging animals can remove soft tissue and disarticulate and scatter remains, resulting in faster-than-expected decomposition. This study investigates the impacts of animal scavenging on decomposition rates and estimations of the PMI in eastern North Carolina using pigs (Sus scrofa) (n=4) as analogs for human remains. Systematic observation over a five-month period documented which scavengers affected the deceased human bodies, the decompositional changes of each subject, and the scattering patterns of the skeletal elements to determine whether or not scatter patterns over time can be predictive of the postmortem interval. One specimen enclosed in a wire cage served as a control. Motion sensing cameras were positioned at the three exposed sites to capture images of scavenging animals. Vultures and canid scavengers produced the most pronounced scattering events. The exposed remains reached full skeletonization and disarticulation by day 8, while the control reached a skeletal state by day 16. This research finds that there are general trends in both scavenger activity over time and scatter of the remains over time, therefore a relationship was found between scatter area and PMI. Studies of this nature are critical in aiding in the estimation of the PMI in real-world medico-legal investigations in eastern North Carolina.
Garcia-Putnam, Alexander. (January 2014). AN INVESTIGATION OF THE TAPHONOMIC EFFECTS OF ANIMAL SCAVENGING (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4522.)
Garcia-Putnam, Alexander. AN INVESTIGATION OF THE TAPHONOMIC EFFECTS OF ANIMAL SCAVENGING. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2014. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4522. October 20, 2018.
Garcia-Putnam, Alexander, “AN INVESTIGATION OF THE TAPHONOMIC EFFECTS OF ANIMAL SCAVENGING” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2014).
Garcia-Putnam, Alexander. AN INVESTIGATION OF THE TAPHONOMIC EFFECTS OF ANIMAL SCAVENGING [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2014.
East Carolina University