Dead bodies move as they decay, Australian scientists find

SYDNEY (DPA) - Time lapse cameras set up by Australian scientists at a research facility have recorded dead bodies moving as they decompose, it was reported on Thursday (Sept 12).

The cameras took photos of dead bodies every 30 minutes over 17 months and found that limbs moved as the body dried and decomposed, Australian national broadcaster ABC reported.

Researcher Alyson Wilson said the discovery could be important for investigations into murders and deaths.

"What we found was that the arms were significantly moving, so that arms that started off down beside the body ended up out to the side of the body," Ms Wilson told the ABC. "One arm went out and then came back in to nearly touching the side of the body again."

The study was made at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research at a secret bush location near Sydney.

The facility was set up three years ago to investigate the decomposition of dead bodies under different conditions to replicate various crime scene scenarios.

Ms Wilson said the movements could be a result of shrinking and contracting of ligaments as they dried out.

Forensic anthropologist Dr Xanthe Mallett of the University of Newcastle said the finding could be significant for crime scene investigators who assume the position of a long-dead body is the same position it was in when the person died.

"I think people will be surprised at just how much movement there was because I was amazed when I saw it, especially how much the arms were moving. It was astounding," she told the ABC.