What Happens in Postmortem?
After death, a body undergoes a series of changes, collectively known as postmortem changes, which include:
- Algor Mortis: The body begins to cool down to match the ambient temperature.
- Livor Mortis: Blood settles in the lower parts of the body, creating a purplish coloration.
- Rigor Mortis: The muscles of the body stiffen, but this eventually dissipates.
- Decomposition: The body begins to decompose, involving processes such as putrefaction and autolysis, where the body's tissues are broken down by its own enzymes and by bacteria.
- Purging: As gases build up in the body's cavities, fluids can be expelled from natural orifices.
- Insect Activity: Various insects, particularly flies and beetles, are attracted to the decomposing body, which can further aid in decomposition.
- Skeletonization: Eventually, the soft tissues will decompose completely, leaving the skeletal remains.
Forensic scientists use the knowledge of these stages to estimate the postmortem interval (PMI), which is the time that has elapsed since death.
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