Human bodies can move for more than a year after being declared dead, according to an Australian scientist.
Over a 17-month period, researcher Alyson Wilson witnessed and photographed the movements of corpses, reports the Big Think.
At the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), she and her team reportedly centred a camera for 17 months, taking photographs of a corpse every 30 minutes during the day. The corpse moved continuously for the entire 17-month period.
She disclosed the surprising details of her discovery to Agence France Presse.
These results may have ramifications in a variety of areas, including pathology and criminology.
"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," Wilson said.
The researchers had anticipated some movement during the early stages of decomposition, but Wilson went on to say that their constant movement had taken them by surprise.
"We think the movements relate to the process of decomposition, as the body mummifies and the ligaments dry out," she added.
Wilson flew to check one of the bodies stored at the "body farm," which is located on the outskirts of Sydney, once a month as it was the team's focus.
Her findings were published in the journal, Forensic Science International: Synergy.
Implications of the study
Understanding these after-death movements and decomposition rates, according to the researchers, may help better predict the time of death. Police, for example, would benefit from this because they would be able to assign a timeframe to missing people and connect it to an unidentified body.
According to the team, "understanding decomposition rates for a human donor in the Australian environment is important for police, forensic anthropologists, and pathologists for the estimation of PMI to assist with the identification of unknown victims, as well as the investigation of criminal activity."
While scientists haven't found any evidence of necromancy. . . the discovery remains a curious new understanding about what happens with the body after we die.