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Stage 1: Pallor Mortis

October 1, 2015 rehadlock 15

The first stage of decomposition “Pallor Mortis” translates to “paleness” [pallor] “of death” [mortis] and generally occurs 15-25 minutes after death. Postmortem paleness of the skin is usually seen more immediately in those who are anemic and/or have less melanin in their skin and therefore were more pale in life. Pallor Mortis is caused due to lack of capillary circulation within blood vessels which run throughout our bodies. The constant flow of blood through a living being gives the skin a good amount of its color and “lifelike” quality. During Pallor Mortis, blood stops its flow and begins to sink to lower […]

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Stage 2: Algor Mortis

October 1, 2015 rehadlock 7

The second stage of decomposition, Algor Mortis translates to “coldness” [algor] “of death” [mortis]. Algor Mortis, sometimes refered to as the “death chill”, is marked by a steady decline in body temperature and continues until the corpse reaches “ambient temperature”, or matches the temperature of its surroundings. Algor Mortis usually sets in one hour after death, but many factors have significant influence on this phase of decomposition. Determining the correct time of death by way of body temperature can be difficult due to stability/fluctuation of ambient temperature, the thermal conductivity of the surface the corpse is on and what is […]

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Stage 3: Rigor Mortis

October 1, 2015 rehadlock 6

The third stage of decomposition known as “Rigor Mortis” translates to “stiffness” [rigor] “of death” [mortis]. The stiffness in a body during the phase of Rigor Mortis is caused by a build up of lactic acid which causes chemical changes within muscles. In life, lactic acid, also known as “milk acid” plays various roles in a body’s biochemical process. The myosin and actin (proteins involved in muscle movement) in the body then begin to harden, causing all muscles in the body to harden for a period of time, as well. At the time of death, “primary flaccidity” occurs and Rigor Mortis begins within […]

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Stage 4: Livor Mortis

October 1, 2015 rehadlock 11

The fourth stage of decomposition, Livor Mortis translates to “blueish color” [livor] “of death” [mortis] although it has many names including “hypostasis”, “suggillation”, “cadaveric lividity”, “darkening of death” and “postmortem staining”. Livor Mortis begins when circulation stops, blood vessels become more permeable due to decomposition, and blood settles throughout the corpse. Red blood cells, which are very dense, travel and pool in the lowest areas possible, staining the tissue. This means in a hanging death, discoloration would be seen in the feet, fingertips and ear lobes. Males who die from hanging may also acquire what’s known as a “Death Erection” (or “Angel Lust”) due […]