The microbial death clock

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Science  11 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1143
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6278.1143

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When you die, a new life begins for the billions of microbes you carry with you. Waves of species start multiplying and breaking down your body. Microbes from the environment join in as well. Scientists think this procession can provide a microbial clock that can help investigators tell the time of death more precisely than they can with current methods, which rely on body temperature, rigor mortis, and insects. Studies in mice and at a so-called body farm, where human cadavers are placed outside so that forensic scientists can study how they decompose, suggest the idea is viable. A larger study is underway.