Medical Science - Other

The 5 Stages of Human Decomposition



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When people die, their body starts to decay immediately. Undertakers depend on chemicals and other tricks to either delay this decay or reduce the appearance of it. Embalming can all but stop the most obvious decay in human bodies. However, if the body is left to nature, it will follow a prescribed course of decomposition. This decomposition has been separated into five general steps.

The first few days after death are the first stage of decomposition.

Since the body is dead, the cells within the body begin to die and break down. If the body is on the ground or in an open setting, insects will begin to invade the body during this first stage. Some insects will lay eggs on the dead flesh. The body does not have a great amount of change except that the tone of the flesh pales since it is no longer nourished with blood.

The second stage is called putrefaction.

This is the stage when most people will begin to find a dead body difficult to be around. It will begin to stink. Bloating is another prominent sign of decomposition during this phase. Additional insect action will begin both outside and inside of the body. The bacteria inside the body react with the blood to turn the body reddish and then green. Internal pressures may cause the body to expel fecal material and possibly even to rupture.

When the body starts to turn from green to black, the third stage of decomposition has started.

The body will rupture and be invaded by increasing numbers and types of insects. Other larger scavengers will start to work on the body. Gases escape and the odor becomes unbearable. During the step, which lasts two to three weeks, bones will become visible to the outside of the body.

The fourth stage is called Butyric fermentation.

During this stage, the body is beginning to dry and become somewhat preserved. The body may take on a waxy appearance. The internal organs wither and begin to slowly decay. Eventually, these organs and tissues will disappear and leave only the skeleton behind.

In the final stage, the skeleton slowly breaks down.

The time required for this stage is strongly influenced by the location and climate where the body resides. Generally, this is by far the longest stage, because bones break down much slower than the softer organs of the body. At the end of this stage, only dust will remain from the human remains.

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