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Questions regarding the condition of a buried body

  1. Apr 23, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone! I'm new to this site, and I'm looking for some help regarding a short story that I'm writing, specifically about the condition of bones (and the remains of a brain) that have been buried for about 5-7 months. I've seen a similar thread, but it didn't really answer my questions.
    Background: The story is set in the Allegheny National Forest in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The body is buried in fairly fresh condition in a forest clearing, away from any source of water, in late summer or very early fall. The grave is approximately three feet deep, and the body is buried completely naked. It remains undisturbed all through winter and into early spring, when a bear coming out of hibernation digs it up and basically chows down on whatever's left (with the help of some ravens). Over the next two months, the bones/remains are snacked on by various animals and subjected to spring weather conditions.
    Now for the questions: Would human rib bones have enough marrow to warrant being snacked on by various creatures, and would that marrow even still be present after six or so months in the ground? And would the marauding bear have cracked open the skull to get to any remaining brain tissue? Or would insects and worms have gotten to it long before? Some of my research has indicated that a body buried at three feet would be safe from many types of insects, so I'm not sure how extensive the damage would be.
    Basically, I'm trying to make this is as accurate as possible, but I've never studied any forensic fields; any help that you guys can provide would be extremely welcome!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2016 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    In your case the fact that the body spent time underground meant that it was likely not consumed by insects like Dermestid beetles. So brain tissue may have survived until Mr. Bear came along.

    This PBS link discusses things that happen to buried remains and how they are interpreted. Start with that:
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