Rigor Mortis (latin: stiffness after death)
- Caused by a chemical reaction in the muscles after death
- a good determination of the time of death - it begins a few hours post-mortem, reaches it’s maximum at about 12 hours, and then gradually decreased for about 3 days. Environmental factors, such as temperature, can speed up or slow down the process.
Post-mortem lividity (livor mortis), or hypostasis
- the pooling of the blood dependent on the position of the body.
- lividity which does not match the position the body is found in is a good determinate of the body being moved post-mortem
Algor Mortis - the gradual decline in body temperature after death
- generally a 2 degrees C decrease in the first hour, and 1 degree thereafter - with the ambient temperature having a significant effect on this rate
Decomposition is the process whereby bodily tissues are broken down into smaller molecules after death. The physical and chemical properties observed during decay are categorized into five stages: (1) fresh, (2) putrefaction, (3) black putrefaction,(4) butyric fermentation, and (5) dry decay