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Keywords:

  • forensic anthropology;
  • human decomposition;
  • skeletal research

Abstract

The Anthropological Research Facility allows actualistic studies evaluating human decomposition to be conducted in a controlled, scientific setting. These studies have had significant ramifications for forensic investigations. Donated cadavers are used to study the precise nature and timing of decomposition events. More than 1,000 bodies have been donated, and more than 2,000 individuals are registered for donation on their death. Initial studies using cadavers focused on gross morphological changes of human decomposition, while more recent research has delved into biochemical analyses. This research has contributed to the accuracy of time since death estimations, which may be critical in criminal investigations. Furthermore, the donated cadavers contribute to the unprecedented diversity of the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection, which allows for a wide range of skeletal-based research. The continuous supply of human cadavers is essential for these research endeavors, and the Forensic Anthropology Center strives to ensure that donor wishes are fulfilled and to assure donors that their invaluable gift will serve the scientific community for years to come. Clin. Anat. 24:372–380, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.