Shells and bones

Found by serendipity: a forensic medicine study on the association of terrestrial shells with a buried skeleton (Galvão et al., 2015). As this is the first report of such an association and the crime case was in Brazil, it seems apt to report here.

The abstract reads as follows: “Little is known regarding the scavenger fauna associated with buried human corpses, particularly in clandestine burials. We report the presence of 20 shells of the terrestrial snail Allopeas micra, within hollow bones of human remains buried for 5 years, during the process of collecting DNA material. The fact that a large number of shells of A. micra had been found in the corpse and in the crime scene supports the assumption that there was no attempt to remove the corpse from the area where the crime occurred. Despite this, our observations cannot be used to estimate the postmortem interval because there is no precise knowledge about the development of this species. This is the first record of a terrestrial snail associated with a human corpse and its role in this forensic medicine case“.

Schermafbeelding 2019-07-23 om 13.05.53

One of the co-authors was Luiz Simone, who also made the identification of the shells. Earlier studies on forensic malacology were focussed on marine species, and so this was an interesting case.

Reference:
Galvão M. et al., 2015. Shells and bones: A forensic medicine study of the association of terrestrial snail Allopeas micra with buried human remains in Brazil. – Journal of Forensic Sciences 60: 1369-1372.

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