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« Are Lawns going out of Fashion? | Main | Rust on the Lawn »

Dead bodies smell of fresh mown grass Scientists discover

Grass Clippings - Fresh Mown GrassIt is one of the smells of summer, conjuring up images of tennis, picnics and Pimm’s.  But the scent of freshly-cut grass also has a darker side.

Research shows the same chemical that gives a newly-mown lawn its beguiling scent is also emitted by dead bodies.

Grassy-smelling hexanal is found in the mixture of gases released in the first few days after death, the British Science Festival in Bradford heard.

The smells of paint thinner and nail varnish remover are also found when bodies are relatively fresh.  A few days later, when the body starts to get bloated, indoles, chemicals more usually found in heady perfumes, can be detected.

While the Huddersfield University research may seem gruesome, it could be used to better train police dogs.  For instance, teaching them about the wide range of smells produced could lead to more bodies being recovered.

Earlier detection may also be possible.  Researcher Anna Williams, a forensic anthropologist, said: ‘If we can train the dogs to specifically look for early-stage chemicals then we might be able to find them earlier than otherwise.

‘But this research is aimed at improving detection across the board.’  Better detection should ensure more criminals caught, as well as help provide closure to families to whose loved ones have been killed.

Dr Williams added: ‘Theoretically, we might be able to extend this research to see if different people give off different smells.  ‘That’s a long way off but I suppose theoretically you could see if people have a smell “fingerprint”.’

Read more on The Daily Mail



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