A body, a dog, and a fistful of scats

Ignasi Galtés, María Ángeles Gallego, Dolors Giménez, Verònica Padilla, Mercè Subirana, Carles Martín-Fumadó, Jordi Medallo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Dogs and coyotes are the most frequently reported canids responsible for scavenging human remains. We present the case of a 90-year-old woman whose mummified body was found in her home showing partial destruction of the thorax and extremities and absence of the cranium. The victim lived with a beagle dog whose dead body was also found, along with abundant scats throughout the house. Scavenging by the decedent's pet was the proposed hypothesis for the partial dismemberment and consumption of her body. Forensic analysis revealed that the victim died as a result of an accidental fracture of the proximal femoral epiphysis. Bone exam showed signs of canine scavenging on certain bones. Macroscopic and histological analyses of the dog feces revealed the presence of small bone fragments within scats. All the collected data supported the hypothesis that the decedent's pet fed on the victim following her death. The current case illustrates that forensic anthropology has much more to offer than personal identification and determining the manner of death. Systematic search and examination of scat deposits recovered from the scene may be very useful in the medicolegal investigation, identifying the origin of body mutilation and particularly the animal responsible for any scavenging. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalForensic Science International
    Volume241
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

    Keywords

    • Animal scavenging
    • Carnivores
    • Forensic anthropology
    • Taphonomy

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