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Effect of Burning on Minimum Post-Mortem Interval (minPMI) Estimation from an Entomological Perspective

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2017)

Journal: Archaeological and Environmental Forensic Science

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/aefs.32472


Forensic entomologists are often employed to estimate the minimum post-mortem interval of bodies in cases of untimely or unexplained death. Although some cases have involved burnt remains, few studies have been carried out to assess whether entomology can still be utilised. Only one major study has been carried out which determined that even after a major house fire, blow fly larvae can still be identified and used to estimate a minimum post-mortem interval. Most studies have investigated whether burning affects the attraction of blow flies to burnt bodies, and their subsequent oviposition. Results vary, but suggest that blow flies may be more likely to oviposit on bodies which have undergone considerable burning, where the splitting of the skin has resulted in the exposure of suitable oviposition sites, whereas bodies only mildly burnt may be too dry for oviposition. In addition, although most studies have utilised some type of accelerant to facilitate the burning, this has not been taken into account with regards to blow fly attraction or larval development. This review paper gives an overview of the current literature relating to burnt bodies and the use of entomology to estimate a minimum post-mortem interval in such cases.

Author: Amoret P. Whitaker

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