In forensic investigations, the estimation of time since death is of utmost importance when examining decomposing bodies and skeletal remains. Current methodology typically focuses on the gross and macroscopic changes to human remains. Surprisingly, microscopic analysis of diagenetic change has not been fully researched in regards to time since death. The current study involved the analysis of diagenetic change in 15 pig (Sus scrofa) long bones from two microenvironments (sun and shade) in the subtropical environment of Central Florida. While the control bone was not placed in the field, seven bones were placed in the sun microenvironment and seven in the shade microenvironment. One bone was collected from each micro environment every other week for a duration of 14 weeks. The samples were then analyzed for gross and macroscopic taphonomic changes, which included soil staining, hemolysis staining, loss of bone grease, and penetration of hemolysis staining into the bone cortex. Microscope slides were then prepared using thin sections of the 15 long bones. Slides were then stained with Periodic Acid Schiffer's stain and Hemotoxylin and Eosin stain and analyzed for Non-Wedl microscopic focal destruction (MFD), Wedl tunneling, and Haversian canal inclusions using standard light microscopy. While gross and macroscopic changes were not significant due to the short time interval studied, microscopic diagenetic changes that were observed included MFD and Wedl tunneling as early as four and six weeks, respectively. Group A (sun) demonstrated a greater occurrence of diagenetic change and greater diameter of MFD. Additionally, the maximum diameter of MFD steadily increased over time, suggesting a correlation between size of MFD and time since death. This pilot study demonstrates the possibility for future research to establish standards for estimating time since death using microscopic analysis. For example, further research should consider implementing a larger sample size, a longer postmortem interval, additional environments, comparative human samples, and a standardized methodology for preparing and analyzing the histological samples.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Overholtzer, Mikayla, "Diagenetic Changes in Long Bones in Central Florida: A Preliminary Macro- and Microscopic Comparison of Sun and Shade Microenvironments" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5170.