New databases and digital techniques are broadening the kinds of evidence available to the crime scene investigator.
WHAT THE INSECTS SAY
Arthropods are often the first to encounter a corpse, so maggots are prized by forensic scientists for the valuable clues they offer. As a carcass decays, it attracts various insect species. Typically the blow flies arrive first, within minutes. Other insects prefer to wait and feast on the body's protein as it ferments. By observing which species are present and what stage of development they have attainedegg, larva, pupa, or adultand comparing that information to local weather data, entomologists can estimate the time of death.