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Northern Michigan University to open first cold weather body farm


Northern Michigan University in Marquette is planning to open the world’s first cold weather body farm.

A body farm is an area where researchers study the decomposition process of human bodies. Right now, there are seven human body farms in the country, all of which are located in warmer areas. The only cold weather farm, in Canada, studies only pig carcasses.

Scott Demel is an associate professor of Anthropology at NMU. He said they’re in the process of acquiring property for the farm.

“So we have about two and a half acres and that’s going to be fenced in this summer, so that’s what you refer to as the body farm, we call it FROST. It stands for Forensic Research Outdoor Station. That should be all up and running by next fall.”

Demel said body farms help law enforcement know what to look for when investigating the death of a person whose body is found outdoors, sometimes after a long period of time.

“So if you’ve got a hunter that goes missing in November and they’re presumed dead in the woods, in January, February what might those remains look like, and can we based on our research have a clue about what to look for when we’re out in the field.”

Demel said the body farm cadavers come from people who donate their bodies to science, and he said people have already shown interest in donating to the new site.