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FORENSIC BIOLOGY 101
Autopsies













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AUTOPSY MEANS "SEE FOR YOURSELF"!!!
















Autopsies are one of the many important steps in the process of a thorough
 
investigstion of a crime. A human body begins to lose heat from the moment of
 
death. Clothed bodies tend to lose heat at a rate of 1.8 degrees Celcius for the
 
first 6-8 hours and then the body heat decreases at an alarming rate,
 
inconsistently different.
 
The first step in an autopsy is to examine the outer body for scientific
 
estimations as to what the autospy will provide the investigators with, allowing
 
evidence found during the autopsy not to give the answer to the crime
 
commited but to support the already developed theories by the examiner and
 
investgators. The examiner then is able to take samples from body fluids such
 
as blood, urine, and the liquid. Changes in the chemical constitution of these
 
fluids can provide an indication of the time of death. Further evidence of time
 
of death is also examined in other areas such as rigor mortis. Rigor Mortis
 
causes stiffen muscles within the first hour to four hours. The rest of the body
 
stiffens within the next four to six hours after the muscles. Further on into the
 
autopsy, the examiner will also examine stomach content wich supplies
 
evidence of the time elapsed between the last meal and the hour of death. This
 
allows the ecaminer to narrow time of death down to between 1 to 3 hours
 
which provides investigators a window of time in which to compare suspect
 
and witness accounts of events taking place.
 
Next, the examiner will make notes on the condtion of the outside of the body.
 
Physical features, race, clothing, colour, wounds, and eye condition are all
 
noted allowing identification of the body to take place if not already known,
 
putting together another piece of the puzzle. Also; after death, gravity causes
 
the blood to sink through the blood vessels to the parts of the body that are
 
lowest to the ground, indicating how the body was positioned when death
 
occured. The blood settles causing a pinkish-blue patches to be seen. The
 
examiner will then taken shoe prints, and a casting of the teeth for further
 
identification. Furthermore, swabs are taken form hands, mouth, breasts,
 
vagina and rectum just in case foul play is suspected.
 
Now the examiner turns to the internal part of the body to fill in the rest of the
 
balnks. A large Y-shaped incision is made on the chest stretching from the
 
ears to the groin. The skin is pulled back allowing for some bruising to be seen
 
if not alreafy seen on the external examination. Tissue samples are taken from
 
wounds and the wounds are clearly examined. The brest bone is cut through to
 
remove the lungs, heart and other organs for further analysis to determine
 
cause of death and rule out accidental. Mentioned earlier, the stomach content
 
is removed to provide evidence for the time elapsed betwenn the last meal and
 
the hour of death. All this examination allows investigators to get a greater
 
understanding of the victim, the time of death, the crime commited and any
 
possible suspects.

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