Researchers Pinpoint the “Smell of Death”admin
Cadaver dogs have been used since the mid-1970s to assist police in searching for dead bodies. They have been trained to track through incliment weather and to distinguish the difference between human and animal remains. How they’ve been able to master the latter may have recently been uncovered by reserachers. A new study reveals that decomposing humans emit a very distinct “singular chemical cocktail”, Science reports. This may not only help better train cadaver dogs, but may also help scientists develop a machine replacement capable of doing the same job.
Whenever a body – animal or human – begins to decompose, a number of carbon-based, or organic, compounds are released. Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium collected the gases released by 8 different tissue and organ samples (pig, mouse, sturgeon, bird, mole, rabbit, turtle and frog) over a 6 month period. Compounds called esters were determined to be the best chemical compound for differentiating between the different species. Eight compunds were found to distinguish the difference between pigs and humans and other animals, while five esters were found to separate pigs and humans. While some scientists and researchers unassociated with the study are a bit skeptical of these new developments, analytical chemist Eva Cuypers (who runs the forensic toxicology lab at the University of Leuven) believes a mixture of these compounds could be concocted to help better train cadaver dogs.