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Skeletonistion, Adipocere formation,

Mummification, Forensic
 Definition:
It is the final stage of decomposition during
which the last remains of the soft tissue of a
corpse have decayed or dried to the point that
the skeleton is exposed.
The time required for skeletonisation mainly
depends on:
 Ambient temperature.
 Insect colonization of the body.
 Scavenger activity.
 Definition:
Adipocere formation is defined as the conversion
of the dead tissue of the body into soft, fatty,
waxy substance. This process is a modification of
 Mechanism:
Adipocere formation takes place due to post mortem hydrolysis
and hydrogenation of body fats, so as to convert these fats into
fatty acids such as stearic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid and
hydroxystearic acid. These fatty acids combine with glycerol to
form Adipocere.

These fatty acids later continue with calcium and ammonium ions
to form insoluble soaps. Therefore this change is also known as
These soaps being acidic, inhibit bacterial growth and thus
preserve the body.
 Features:
1. Body is converted into soft, yellowish, waxy, fatty and
brittle substance.
2. Body emits sweetish disagreeable smell. (In early stages the
smell is ammoniacal).
3. It can be cut easily.
4. Burns with faint yellow flames.
5. It floats on water.
6. Melts on heating.
7. Dissolves in alcohol and ether.
8. Facial features and injuries on body are well preserved and
a)Identification of dead body is possible.
b)Cause of death can be known in case of death due to
 Factors influencing adipocere formation:
1. Absence of oxygen or anaerobic conditions.
2. Excess moisture or presence of water.
3. Warm temperature.
 Medicolegal Importance:
1. It is a sure sign of death.
2. Identity of the dead can be known, as facial
features are preserved.
3. Cause of death can be known in case of death
due to injury.
4. Time since death can be known, but it is not
reliable. (Fresh adipocere is soft, moist, whitish
translucent and greasy, resembling pale rancid
butter. After some years, it becomes dry, hard,
brittle, cracked and yellowish).
 Definition:
Mummification is defined as the dehydration or
drying and shrinking of the cadaver.

The natural appearance of the body and general

facial features are preserved.

It is also a modification of decomposition.

 Mechanism :
Mummification occurs because of evaporation of
body fluids in the presence of warmth, excess of
air and absence of moisture.
 Features :
1. Body becomes thin, shrivelled, dried and dark brown
or black.
2. Skin and muscles become thin, dark, leathery and
adherent to bones.
3. Body emits smell like rotten cheese.
4. All internal viscera blend with each other. This is
mainly due to putrefaction and maggot activity.
5. Facial features and injuries are preserved.
 Factors necessary for Mummification:
1. Absence of moisture.
2. Excess of air.
3. Warmth.
Desserts provide the ideal atmosphere for
 Medicolegal importance:
1. It is a sure sign of death.
2. Identity of the dead can be known.
3. Cause of death can be known in case the death
has occurred due to an injury.
4. Time since death can be estimated which is not
 Definition : It is the study of form and behavior of
insects so that the knowledge can be used for
forensic purposes.

 Medicolegal importance: To find the approximate

range of time of death.

 Mechanism : Many insects infect the body

immediately after death and these insects have a
specific time period for each phase of their life cycle.
So by determining what phase of the life cycle the
insects are in, we can find the time since death.