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Canada Idle Science

Dead Pigs Used To Investigate Ocean's "Dead Zones" 106

timothy writes "As places to study what happens to corpses, the Atlantic Ocean is both much larger and much more specialized than the famous 'body farm' in Knoxville, TN. But for all kinds of good reasons, sending human bodies into Davy Jones' locker just to see where they float and how they bloat is unpopular. Pigs don't pay taxes, and more importantly, they don't vote. So Canadian scientists have taken to using them as human-body proxies, to study what happens when creatures of similar size and hairlessness (aka, us) end up 86ed and in the drink."
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Dead Pigs Used To Investigate Ocean's "Dead Zones"

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  • Curiosity? Reason? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @04:44PM (#31362306) Homepage Journal
    Well the approach to understanding the Atlantic, 'dead zone,' makes sense. Pigs have, so far as I understand, been used for all sorts of science where using humans is not practical or ethical. For instance, if I recall correctly, various pig organs can and are used for human organ transplants. So sure, using pigs for this sort of thing makes sense. However, I do have a question.

    What are the reasons for better understanding corpse decomposition in the oceans?

    It sounds like this may be a study to figure out if human corpses end up drifting to a common location (much like that floating garbage patch in the pacific). If so, is this primarily a search and rescue type study? Are they trying to see if the bodies of missing persons can be dug up from the ocean depths? Is there some other reason for doing a study like this?

    Don't get me wrong, I am all for knowledge for it's own sake. I would just like to know what the motivations are behind this study.

    TFA states:

    "If you need to know how long it's been since death, if you're looking at the remains and there are marks on them, you need to find out - how did those marks come about?"

    So I suppose that is a partial answer to my question. I am still curious though, if there is any spin off science that could be gathered from this kind of study. Surely there are some marine biologists out there that could use the data gathered here to better understand this particular ecological niche. Any other ideas?

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault