BBC Focus – Down on the Body Farm
Left unburied and uncovered, here’s what happens to a body…
1. The fresh stage can last a few days to a week. Rigor mortis initially sets in and cells break
down as the lack of oxygen and nutrients prevents them from replenishing themselves.
2. When bacteria in the gut can no longer be kept in check, they start to reproduce and feed on the body.
This produces gas that causes the abdomen to bloat.
3. Gas building up increases pressure within the body, pushing fluids in
between the layers of skin and causing the outer layers to slough off.
4. With no oxygen to bind to, haemoglobinin the blood binds to sulphur instead, filling the arteries and veins with a greenish-black substance.
This gives the flesh an appearance known as ‘marbling’.
5. Increasing pressure forces the body’s fluids and liquefied organs out of any available orifice.
Eyeballs can be dislodged and bodies have even been known to explode.
6. Chemicals released by the body attract flies, which lay eggs in and around the orifices.
Soon after, maggots hatch and begin feeding on the body’s flesh and organs.
7. Other insects, such as beetles, are attracted to the body, as well as small birds looking to feed on them.
Local scavenging animals will also appear to pick the flesh off the bones.
8. The final stage is skeletonisation, when the soft tissue is fully lost.
Wind, rain, erosion and abrasion take over and the bones are disarticulated over the following months and years.


O T H E R  T H I N G S  T O  D O  W H E N  Y O U ’ R E  D E A D
PUT ON A SHOW: Body Worlds exhibitions feature real corpses and organs that have been preserved through plastination.
RELEASE A RECORD: You can get to press your ashes into the vinyl on which your voice and music is printed.
GROW A TREE: You can have your ashes added to a Bios Urn, a biodegradable container that’s packed with soil and used for tree seed germination.
CRASH CARS: Car manufacturers like to demonstrate the efficacy of their vehicles’ safety features by showing you slow-motion video of dummies getting thrown about during a collision.
What they’re less keen to publicise is that they’ve probably put dead bodies through the same tests to see how the impacts affect their internal organs.


BBC Focus – Down on the Body Farm

BBC Focus – Down on the Body Farm

Spot illustrations for the BBC Focus magazine, about the decomposition of the human body.

Creative Fields