Dead bodies keep moving for more than a year after death, new study finds

So much for rest in peace.

Dead bodies keep moving for more than a year after death, new study finds
Image source: live.staticflickr.com
  • Australian scientists found that bodies kept moving for 17 months after being pronounced dead.
  • Researchers used photography capture technology in 30-minute intervals every day to capture the movement.
  • This study could help better identify time of death.

We're learning more new things about death everyday. Much has been said and theorized about the great divide between life and the Great Beyond. While everyone and every culture has their own philosophies and unique ideas on the subject, we're beginning to learn a lot of new scientific facts about the deceased corporeal form.

An Australian scientist has found that human bodies move for more than a year after being pronounced dead. These findings could have implications for fields as diverse as pathology to criminology.

Dead bodies keep moving 

Researcher Alyson Wilson studied and photographed the movements of corpses over a 17 month timeframe. She recently told Agence France Presse about the shocking details of her discovery.

Reportedly, she and her team focused a camera for 17 months at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), taking images of a corpse every 30 minutes during the day. For the entire 17 month duration, the corpse continually moved.

"What we found was that the arms were significantly moving, so that arms that started off down beside the body ended up out to the side of the body," Wilson said.

The researchers mostly expected some kind of movement during the very early stages of decomposition, but Wilson further explained that their continual movement completely surprised the team:

"We think the movements relate to the process of decomposition, as the body mummifies and the ligaments dry out."

During one of the studies, arms that had been next to the body eventually ended up akimbo on their side.

The team's subject was one of the bodies stored at the "body farm," which sits on the outskirts of Sydney. (Wilson took a flight every month to check in on the cadaver.)

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

Implications of the study

The researchers believe that understanding these after death movements and decomposition rate could help better estimate the time of death. Police for example could benefit from this as they'd be able to give a timeframe to missing persons and link that up with an unidentified corpse. According to the team:

"Understanding decomposition rates for a human donor in the Australian environment is important for police, forensic anthropologists, and pathologists for the estimation of PMI to assist with the identification of unknown victims, as well as the investigation of criminal activity."

While scientists haven't found any evidence of necromancy. . . the discovery remains a curious new understanding about what happens with the body after we die.

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle may finally be solved

Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.

Surprising Science

One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.

Keep reading Show less

America of the 1930s saw thousands of people become Nazi

Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.

League of the Friends of the New Germany rally at Madison Square Garden. 1934.

Credit: Bettman / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
  • The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
  • Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
Keep reading Show less

Coffee and green tea may lower death risk for some adults

Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.


Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
  • This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
  • The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Why San Francisco felt like the set of a sci-fi flick

But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast