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Looking inside blow flies for forensics

The time that a person died can be estimated using forensic entomology – it provides the age of flesh-eating insects in the body. Improving ageing estimates of the blow fly will increase accuracy in forensic investigations.
Looking inside blow flies for forensics
The larval stage of the insect can be used to calculate accurate death time estimates. Unfortunately, estimates based on the intra-puparial period when the larva changes to an adult are very limited. Occupying half the total development phase, it is therefore a crucial factor for the minimum post-mortem interval.

With EU funding, the MORPHIC (Methods of researching pupal history involving CT-scanning: A novel approach to death time estimations) project has used state of the art technologies such as micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and computer-based 3D reconstructions to provide the resolution necessary to describe internal and external changes during development.

The MORPHIC team have increased temporal resolution to identify physical changes that exceeds previous work. Importantly, they have produced data on the development of several organ systems.

Results show that the timing of development is constant for different temperatures and different blow fly species so the method can be used to age pupae. Approaches developed are both qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative method is based on key morphological factors complemented with quantitative measures of the volumes of organ systems.

MORPHIC research has provided a more robust platform for estimation of time of death using forensic entomology. Dissemination includes publication in peer-reviewed journals and web-based tools. Journals with links to papers include International Journal of Legal Medicine, Journal of Medical Entomology and Royal Society of Open Science.

Related information

Keywords

Blow fly, forensic entomology, death time estimate, intra-puparial period, MORPHIC, micro-computed tomography
Record Number: 198596 / Last updated on: 2017-05-26
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