Type of Article:  Original Research

Volume 10; Issue 3 (September 2022)

Page No.: 8398-8407

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.16965/ijar.2022.169

Estimation of Time Since Death of Bodies Above Soil Surface in A Guinea Forest-Savannah Vegetation of Nigeria Using Visible Post Mortem Changes

Darlington Nnamdi Onyejike *1, Victor Adolf Fischer 3, Ugochukwu Godfrey Esomonu 4, Ugochukwu Samuel Aguwa 1, Emmanuel Nzube Ezenwatu 1, Darlington Cyprain Akukwu 2, Somadina Nnamdi Okeke 1, Ifechukwu Justicia Obiesie 1, Emeka Ambrose Okubike 1, Gloria Chinenye Ojemeni 1, Ambrose Echefulachi Agulanna 1, Ifeoma Miracle Onyejike 1.

*1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi campus, Anambra state, Nigeria.

2 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Imo state University, Owerri, Imo state, Nigeria.

3 Department of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross river state, Nigeria

4 Department of Anatomy and Forensic anthropology, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Cross River University of Technology, Okuku campus, Cross river state, Nigeria


Corresponding author: Dr Darlington Nnamdi Onyejike, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi campus, Anambra state, Nigeria. Telephone number: 08061131867 E-Mail: dn.onyejike@unizik.edu.ng


Background: Forensic taphonomy is the use of decomposition timeline estimation to unravel mystery behind time of death confirmation in homicide cases involving the law court. The Guinea forest-savannah vegetation is one of the vegetations in Nigeria characterized by short trees, grassland, very hot temperatures almost round the year, speedy wind, etc. It has two distinct seasons – rainy and dry seasons. This study aimed at investigating the visible post mortem changes of domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domestica) in a Guinea forest-savannah vegetation of Nigeria so that it can be used to estimate time since death of bodies on the soil surface. 

Methods: A stratified random sampling technique was used to select two male and two female matured domestic pigs from a private pig farm located close to the research facility. The visible post mortem changes were observed daily (morning, afternoon and evening) for 49 days.

Results: Four stages of decomposition were identified namely fresh, bloat, active decay, and advanced decay stages. Mummification process started at the sixth day post mortem which slowed the rate of decomposition, and prevented the animals to completely skeletonize within the study period. Extreme atmospheric temperature was the major factor that aided the mummification of the animals.

Conclusions: Decomposition of domestic pigs in this region accelerates at the early hours of post mortem, and subsequently slows down due to extreme climatic conditions. In addition, it takes carcasses on the soil surface more than 49 days to completely skeletonize due to its vegetative factors. This implies that most crime investigations carried out in this region must take into account the climatic conditions before estimating the time of death.

KEYWORDS: Crime investigation, Decomposition timeline estimation, Forensic taphonomy, Mummification, Stages of decomposition, Visible post mortem changes.


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Cite this article: Darlington Nnamdi Onyejike, Victor Adolf Fischer, Ugochukwu Godfrey Esomonu, Ugochukwu Samuel Aguwa, Emmanuel Nzube Ezenwatu, Darlington Cyprain Akukwu, Somadina Nnamdi Okeke, Ifechukwu Justicia Obiesie, Emeka Ambrose Okubike, Gloria Chinenye Ojemeni, Ambrose Echefulachi Agulanna, Ifeoma Miracle Onyejike. Estimation of Time Since Death of Bodies Above Soil Surface in A Guinea Forest-Savannah Vegetation of Nigeria Using Visible Post Mortem Changes. Int J Anat Res 2022;10(3):8398-8407. DOI: 10.16965/ijar.2022.169