US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Usually, when a corpse is found, the time of death can be estimated by insect activity or body temperature. However, this does not apply when the body was in water. Now a new study by scientists from the University of Northumbria suggests that bone proteins may provide some of the answer.
Researchers placed fresh corpses of mice in containers with various water: saline, from a pond, tap and chlorinated. Some mice were left for a week, while others were kept in water for up to three weeks.
Scientists then analyzed the leg bones of mice using mass spectrometry. They found that in all types of water, levels of a protein known as fructose bisphosphate aldolase A decreased at a constant and predictable rate.
Given that the bones of submerged corpses are deeper, under a layer of muscles and skin, and they are less likely than other tissues to be consumed by animal scavengers. Thanks to this, there is hope that the team’s findings will help the police in their investigations.
However, the authors note that protein levels do not necessarily indicate the immediate time of death, but how long the body has been in water.
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