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Because a putrefying body's liquefying organs leach out into the soil around it, the unique fatty acids and compounds (such as putrescine, cadaverine, skatole, and indole) of the decay process can be used to determine where the body decomposed. Jennifer Love, a graduate student at UT, has been working on developing an aroma scan technology that can identify the unique odour signatures of the stages of decay. Humans remains dogs are already capable of this; they can detect the scent molecules for up to fourteen months after the body has been removed, and can smell them even when the body is at the bottom of a lake because the odours rise to the surface.
Contributed by Kati Waldrop