Liza's pig cam log

As our pig decays we are posting updates, pictures, and having experts tell us what we are seeing.

As our pig decays we will be posting close-up pictures here. If you have questions or comments, leave them. We're asking a few experts to check in periodically, and the Buzz staff will try to answer questions as well. You can read the discussion below.

Day-by-day close-ups

Warning: These images may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Monday, 9-22-08 Day 5
Tuesday, 9-23-08 Day 6
Wednesday, 9-24-08 Day 7
Thursday, 9-25-08 Day 8
Friday, 9-26-08 Day 9
Saturday, 9-27-08 Day 10
Monday, 9-29-08 Day 12
Tuesday, 9-30-08 Day 13
Wednesday, 10-1-08 Day 14
Thursday, 10-2-08 Day 15
Monday, 10-6-08 Day 19
Thursday, 10-9-08 Day 22
Tuesday, 10-14-08 Day 27
Friday, 10-17-08 Day 30
Monday, 10-20-08 Day 33
Tuesday, 10-21-08 Day 34
Wednesday, 10-22-08 Day 35
Friday, 10-31-08 Day 44
Thursday, 11-06-08 Day 40
a big pig standing up

watch the time lapse video button

We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service--two dishes, but to one table. That's the end.

(From Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 3)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day One
The pig, straight out of the freezer. It seemed to thaw pretty quickly, but you can still see the marks from the freezer shelf on the pig's belly and neck. Look closely at the pig's ear: that's the first fly, making itself busy.
Pig, @2pm, 9-18-08: It was 74 degrees at the time. No precipitation, and the humidity was 49%.    By 4pm, the temperature had peaked at 77 degrees.
Pig, @2pm, 9-18-08: It was 74 degrees at the time. No precipitation, and the humidity was 49%. By 4pm, the temperature had peaked at 77 degrees.Courtesy Liza Pryor

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:41pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Two, Image 1
Pig is discolored, and the face is swollen. Not super smelly yet -- mostly just smells like pig. Flies buzzing around, but not swarming. The life cycle of fly to maggot to fly takes 2-3 weeks, and longer at cooler temperatures.

In summer, a human body in an exposed location can be reduced to just bones in only nine days. Our pig, even though it's much smaller, will take longer since it's not completely exposed to the elements and autumn temperatures in Minnesota limit the amount of insect activity.

Pig, @11am, 9-19-08: Photo taken at 11am.    Overnight temperature bottomed out at 63 degrees.    No precipitation, but the humidity rose: 60-70% overnight.
Pig, @11am, 9-19-08: Photo taken at 11am. Overnight temperature bottomed out at 63 degrees. No precipitation, but the humidity rose: 60-70% overnight.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:41pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Two, Image 2
Flies are particularly attracted to the pig's mouth and eyes. That's because most tiny, first-instar larvae eat liquid protein before their mouthparts get big enough to actually eat meat. So blow flies lay their eggs in open wounds (none on our pig) and the moist areas of the nose, mouth, eyes, and anal and genital areas.
Pig, 1:15pm, 9-19-08: It's 76 degrees.  There's no wind, there's no precipitation, and the humidity is 48%.    Today's high is predicted to be 83 degrees, and it's supposed to be warm and sunny all weekend...
Pig, 1:15pm, 9-19-08: It's 76 degrees. There's no wind, there's no precipitation, and the humidity is 48%. Today's high is predicted to be 83 degrees, and it's supposed to be warm and sunny all weekend...Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that is very rude watching a dead pig rot.RESPECT THE DEAD!

posted on Sat, 12/20/2008 - 4:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Except that we are learning that, from watching this dead pig rot, the study of decomposing bodies. This might seem rude to you until you realize that when this is applied to a Forensics class allows investigators to analyze and understand the time of death, so that they can solve real crimes and bring closure to the family's of a victim. How rude is that?

posted on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 9:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Two, Image 3
The three big "body clocks" are rigor mortis (the muscle stiffening that happens in the hours after death and then disappears), algor mortis (the cooling of a corpse as it equalizes with its surroundings), and livor mortis (the gradual settling and pooling of blood the begins as soon as the heart stops beating). But these can only widely approximate the time of death, since age, body size, health, manner of death, ambient air temperature, air movement, etc, can all skew the expected changes. 24-28 hours after death, lividity peaks, the body reaches ambient temperature, and rigor disappears. After that, insects are the key. Of course, our piggy was in a freezer for some time, and I'm not sure what to anticipate and when because of that.

After looking at these photos in succession, quickly, I think I'd say that our pig is starting to bloat.

Why? Well, the intestines are packed with bacteria that didn't die with the pig. When alive, the pig's body kept the bacteria in check, but now they're running rampant and breaking down tissue. Also, the pig's own digestive juices and other enzymes are breaking down its body. The decomposing tissues release gasses that distend the abdomen. Eventually, the pressure will also make the tongue stick out and push fluids from the lungs out of the mouth and nose.

But things are just getting going. I don't expect that kind of activity to peak until day 4-6. At least.
Pig, @4pm, 9-19-08: It's calm, 80 degrees, and sunny, with 39% humidity.   Not much is going on out there.
Pig, @4pm, 9-19-08: It's calm, 80 degrees, and sunny, with 39% humidity. Not much is going on out there.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:42pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Two, Image 4
I didn't realize the light stayed on. Cool.
@8pm, Friday, 9-19-08: It rained pretty good for a brief period this afternoon (around 6?), but it's dry now. And the pig is under an overhang. It's 74 degrees and calm, with humidity at 51%.
@8pm, Friday, 9-19-08: It rained pretty good for a brief period this afternoon (around 6?), but it's dry now. And the pig is under an overhang. It's 74 degrees and calm, with humidity at 51%.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Why would you do that to a pig you sick nasty person

posted on Sat, 10/25/2008 - 2:46pm
Alejandra\james bond's picture
Alejandra\james bond says:

yeah, get real, seriously? you WANT to do that? there's things called mental societies for you.

posted on Sat, 11/01/2008 - 5:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

```````agree. stop the needless killing unless it died naturally.

posted on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:37pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Actually that is exactly how this pig died. We made sure to work with several farmers to find a pig that died of natural causes for this project.

posted on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It's called science. they study the efeects of decomposition on pigs, because pigs skin is fairly close to humans, and if they have a dead human, they can compare images with the research from this product. it died naturally and hasa been left alone, untampered with. stop trolling.

posted on Sat, 10/29/2011 - 2:28pm
Amandakaye1993's picture
Amandakaye1993 says:

I am so glad I found this page! I am very interested in forensics! I am in the process of finishing my Criminal Justice degree right now and I plan to transfer and attend the University of Tennessee for Forensics .I am currently in Early College( It is half high school and the other half college) . I will be graduating with My Criminal Justice degree along with my high school diploma. First though I have to do a senior Project! and I am planning on doing my senior Project on Pig decomposition. I am planning on taking a couple pigs and doing what you have done with the pigs in your photos.
I would love to speak with you , to get a little information on how you began your process.
Thank you !
Amanda

posted on Tue, 01/29/2013 - 12:35pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Two, Image 5
Everything you never wanted to know about maggots...
@11:30pm, Friday, 9-19-08: It's 68 degrees, calm and clear, with humidity at 61%.
@11:30pm, Friday, 9-19-08: It's 68 degrees, calm and clear, with humidity at 61%.Courtesy SMM

We think of maggots as foul, disgusting little vermin, but they actually have some interesting medical uses, along with their value to the law enforcement community. Maggots produce antibacterial compounds that may someday help doctors fight superbugs and can be used to clean and treat problematic wounds.

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:43pm
Val Cervenka's picture

I like the technical term for that type of problematic wound cleaning: Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT). Google it!

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 4:23pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Three, Image 1
Oh, my. Things are happening out there just a little more quickly than I thought!
@9am, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's hazy and 62 degrees, with light, variable winds, and 84% humidity.
@9am, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's hazy and 62 degrees, with light, variable winds, and 84% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:43pm
KelsiDayle's picture
KelsiDayle says:

Ok, so I know this is a few years old now, but I just saw it today:

What to say...?? I was intrigued and disgusted all at once! But my burning questions are about the fluid ooze. Of what is it composed? From where did it come? Why and how was it released? Is this a usual occurrence for Day 3 of decomposition?

With all the forensic-based TV shows I watch, I'm surprised this has never come up...

posted on Wed, 03/17/2010 - 2:02pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

It's normal.

You can read my Day 2 entry [above], but here's the particularly relevant bit:

"Well, the intestines are packed with bacteria that didn't die with the pig. When alive, the pig's body kept the bacteria in check, but now they're running rampant and breaking down tissue. Also, the pig's own digestive juices and other enzymes are breaking down its body. The decomposing tissues release gasses that distend the abdomen. Eventually, the pressure will also make the tongue stick out and push fluids from the lungs out of the mouth and nose."

posted on Wed, 03/17/2010 - 2:05pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Three, Image 2
All that fluid is attractive to flies, and good for little maggots. There's a lot more fly activity than there was earlier.
@12pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's 69 degrees, calm, clear, and sunny, with 71% humidity.
@12pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's 69 degrees, calm, clear, and sunny, with 71% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:44pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Three, Image 3
A pig in clothes (yes, forensic entomologists have studied this) will decompose faster than a naked pig because the clothing traps all the moisture against the skin, making it softer and easier for insects to deal with.
@2:30pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's 75 degrees, calm, clear, and sunny, with humidity at 61%.
@2:30pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's 75 degrees, calm, clear, and sunny, with humidity at 61%.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:44pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Three, Image 4
@6pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: Ack! I carefully recorded all the weather data, and then I looked at the sticky note, thought it was left over from my previous post, and threw it away. It was an electronic sticky, and it's gone for good. I can approximate, maybe...
@6pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: Ack! I carefully recorded all the weather data, and then I looked at the sticky note, thought it was left over from my previous post, and threw it away. It was an electronic sticky, and it's gone for good. I can approximate, maybe...Courtesy SMM

Weather Underground says that at 7pm it was 72 degrees and clear, with light winds and 52% humidity.

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:49pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Three, Image 5
I was just looking at deathonline.net/decomposition, trying to estimate what we might expect to see tomorrow. I didn't really come up with a timeline (I need to do some Celcius/Fahrenheit conversions, among other things), but I did come across the following description of what's coming:

"The young maggots move throughout the body, spreading bacteria, secreting digestive enzymes and tearing tissues with their mouth hooks. They move as a maggot mass benefiting from communal heat and shared digestive secretions.

The rate of decay increases, and the smells and body fluids that begin to eminate from the body attract more blowflies, flesh flies, beetles and mites. The later-arriving flies and beetles are predators, feeding on maggots as well as the decaying flesh. They are joined by parasitoid wasps that lay their eggs inside maggots and later, inside pupae."

@8:40pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's 70 degrees and clear, with light winds and 67% humidity.
@8:40pm, Saturday, 9-20-08: It's 70 degrees and clear, with light winds and 67% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i'm curious why the fluid under the pig's lower half is so much darker than that under it's torso...

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 9:17pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I am betting that's because the fluids under that half of the pig are from its digestive system (intestines), hence the darker color, while the other fluid is probably blood.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 12:47pm
Loafie's picture
Loafie says:

maybe there's just a bigger mass of fluids under the lower half?
Thus the color is darker.

posted on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 1:34pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 1

@9:30am, Sunday, 9-21-08: It's about 62 degrees, clear, sunny, and calm, with 91% humidity.
@9:30am, Sunday, 9-21-08: It's about 62 degrees, clear, sunny, and calm, with 91% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 9:30am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 2
There are a LOT more flies out there than on any other day so far, and the pig is definitely bloating.

@2:15, Sunday, 9-21-08: It's 78 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 49% humidity.
@2:15, Sunday, 9-21-08: It's 78 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 49% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 2:23pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 3

@9:45pm, Sunday, 9-21-08: It's 69 degrees, clear and calm, with 57% humidity.
@9:45pm, Sunday, 9-21-08: It's 69 degrees, clear and calm, with 57% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 9:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

why did the pigs fluids after 3 or4 days finaly come out?

posted on Sat, 10/18/2008 - 4:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i know this is a set up gig, but normally a dead animal (or human) would be found laying in the earth (or at least that's what i imagine in my mind...). so, i'm curious if there are insects from the earth to help with the decomposition process --- that aren't present in this situation - i see that the pig is on a steel plate. or is it all ab out the flies and maggots?

posted on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 11:33pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Excellent point. Good question. I am guessing the dermestid beatles that usually show up to eat the flesh will not enter into this scene.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:22am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Generally, dermestid beetles don't show up until something's been dead for a while: a few days to a few weeks. They prefer a dried-out carcass, and then they'll eat to the bone. That's what makes them so valuable to taxidermists and museum collectors.

More on dermestids from Science Buzz

And check out our dermestid cam.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:52am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Dermestids will be able to get at this pig, the question is will the decomposition be far enough along before it gets too cold for dermestid activity to take place. As Liza mentions, dermestids come after the cadaver is more dried out. This pig is too juicy right now for dermestids. Generally insect activity ceases when the average daily air temperature reaches 50 degrees...

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 12:57pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

That is a good question.

There's a good discussion of the order in which things usually feed on a corpse at deathonline.net/decomposition. Generally, bacteria and flies are the first colonizers of a body, no matter where it lies.

" The alkaline environment created by the flies is toxic for beetles and so beetles are largely excluded from feeding on the dead body itself as long as the fly larvae are active. However, many species of rove beetle, carrion beetle and burrowing beetle are still present in the early stages of decomposition because they are active predators of fly larvae, avoiding the alkaline tissues of the corpse.

Parasitoid wasps are also abundant at dead bodies, laying their eggs inside fly larvae and pupae."

Beetles generally don't appear in large numbers until the body has dried considerably.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:43am
Val Cervenka's picture

Thanks for sending the link to the deathonline website, Liza. Neat summary. I'd like to point out to folks that while dermestid beetles may prefer beef (or ham, or...) jerky, I've seen them relatively early on in some cases of human decomposition. The adults may sneak in and lay eggs when we're not looking, and then the question becomes, will it stay warm enough for the eggs to hatch into larvae? Those are the hairy ones!

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 4:22pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

As to WHY the pig is on this pan...we wanted to make sure the pig would not be scavenged by rats or other scavengers so it is in a cage. I learned from our conservation team that if we left it on the grass with just a cage over it that rats would burrow under the cage to get at the pig - hence the pan. We're focused on the entomology and stages of decomposition here, so a rat or other animal absconding with our pig would be a bummer.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 12:52pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

In truth, rats and mice can easily get into the cage. Our conservation folks (big shout out to Rebecca!) tell me that a rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, and a mouse only needs a hole the size of a pencil eraser. The gaps in the mesh walls are bigger than that. But the rodents shouldn't be able to drag off pieces of the pig, and that's what we were trying to prevent.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 1:40pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I don't know...I think a rat would think twice about trying to squeeze through the expanded steel openings - that stuff is sharp!

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 2:12pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 1

@8:40am, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 63 degrees, hazy and calm, with 88% humidity.
@8:40am, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 63 degrees, hazy and calm, with 88% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 10:07am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 2
See that discoloration developing on the pig's belly? (Look back at yesterday's photos to see it start.) I think we're starting to see evidence of putrefaction. The forecast calls for warm and perhaps wet weather all week. That should keep the insects busy...

@10:15, Monday, 9-22-08: 67 degrees, hazy and calm, with 81% humidity.
@10:15, Monday, 9-22-08: 67 degrees, hazy and calm, with 81% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 10:25am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Since it's hard to see detail from the webcam, I'll go downstairs and get some closeup stills and video each day. (Today is Monday, 9-22-08.)

Warning: They're much more detailed than what you're seeing on this page.

If you want a look, try here.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 3:36pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I am only leaving a comment here to really draw attention to Liza's link above. It is graphic - and awesome.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 2:17pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 3

@3:40pm, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 75 degrees, calm, and partly cloudy, with 57% humidity.
@3:40pm, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 75 degrees, calm, and partly cloudy, with 57% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 3:46pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Four, Image 4

@5:45pm, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 76 degrees, hazy, and calm, with 50% humidity.
@5:45pm, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 76 degrees, hazy, and calm, with 50% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:27pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Five, Image 5
There's now so much maggot activity going on near the pig's mouth and chin that you can see the movement on the webcam's live feed. I promise, Buzzketeers, that we'll get a time lapse up soon so you, too, can see.

@9:00pm, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 70 degrees, clear, and calm, with 69% humidity.
@9:00pm, Monday, 9-22-08: It's 70 degrees, clear, and calm, with 69% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:29pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Six, Image 1
Oh, friends. Our little piggy doesn't have a face anymore. Also, you can see that bloating has forced the pig's right legs up into the air.

@9:30am, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 66 degrees, calm and mostly cloudy (it was raining pretty good just a little bit ago), and the humidity is 90%. Humidity was high overnight (never below 77% percent) and the low temp was 65 degrees.
@9:30am, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 66 degrees, calm and mostly cloudy (it was raining pretty good just a little bit ago), and the humidity is 90%. Humidity was high overnight (never below 77% percent) and the low temp was 65 degrees.Courtesy SMM

I can't tell whether the maggots go into overdrive at night, or if it just seems that way since I'm not constantly monitoring the cam. I'll have to ask Val Cervenka or Aaron Tarone (our friendly forensic entomologists) about that.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 9:36am
Val Cervenka's picture

The maggots don't necessarily go into "overdrive" at night, but they keep developing. In the early growth stages, the little maggots form what we call a maggot mass. All those maggots create a lot of heat , which can serve to speed up their development (remember, since flies are cold-blooded, their body temperature is the same as the air temperature) and cause big changes in a short amount of time - like overnight.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 9:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i'm curious what influence the rain has?

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 11:49am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

In general, this would be a good question for Val. Specifically for this pig, it is under a soffit so it is not being rained on.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is an interesting experiment..... how much time do you think
it will take the pig to fully decompose?

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:41pm
Aaron Tarone's picture
Aaron Tarone says:

Rain should prevent flies from flying, which means they won't migrate to a corpse while it is raining. In the case of this pig, rain shouldn't have much of an effect if the flies are already there and the pig is covered.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:32pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Just like the St. Paul Saints have done for years with their live pig, I think we need to come up with a name for our pig. This year's Saints pig was named Boarack Ohama, which edged out Hillary Rod-ham Clinton, John Muckain in fan voting. Previous Saints pigs have been named Ham Solo, Garrison Squeallor, Bud Squealig, Kevin Bacon, Muddona, Hammy Davis, Jr. and Notorious P.I.G. (Piggy Smalls).

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 3:01pm
Imholte Fan Club's picture
Imholte Fan Club says:

Wilbur gets my vote. Then we need to find a bunch of little spiders.

Man, that's some pig.

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 12:32pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here are the close-up images and video for Tuesday, 9-23-08.

USUAL DISCLAIMER: As with all things dead pig-related, these images are extremely graphic.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 3:41pm
Imholte Fan Club's picture
Imholte Fan Club says:

That, Liza, is an absolutely fantastic disclaimer.

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 12:33pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Six, Image 2

It's hard to see in these pictures, since the top half of the pig is the dry half, with the least insect activity, but the decomposition is moving right along.

The pig has developed quite a hernia from all the gas trapped in its abdomen.

@3:45pm, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 77 degrees and overcast, with light winds, and 60% humidity.
@3:45pm, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 77 degrees and overcast, with light winds, and 60% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 5:06pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Six, Image 3

Holy Cow! I turned on the feed from the webcam, thinking it was time for another still shot. And the image looked pretty much like today's image 2.

But when I snapped a still shot from the feed, this is what I got:

@8:15pm, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 66 degrees, overcast, and calm, with 95% humidity.
@8:15pm, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 66 degrees, overcast, and calm, with 95% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Heavens. There's a LOT more fluid, and you can see a break in the skin on the lower back leg.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 8:21pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

There she blows! I thought the break would be in the stomach area.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 8:56pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Me, too.

Day 6, Image 4
Can't wait to get in tomorrow and do the close-ups...Want to pay some attention to that top shoulder joint--what's happening there? I think there's still a lot of internal pressure, because the pig seems to be rotating.

@10pm, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 65 degrees, calm, and clear, with 95% humidity.
@10pm, Tuesday, 9-23-08: It's 65 degrees, calm, and clear, with 95% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:08pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day 7, Image 1

Friends! The images LIED to us. No, we just misinterpreted. The piggy has not "popped," as Joe put it. We were just seeing some fluid pooling on that back leg.

Here was the surprise image I pulled this morning...

@9:00am, Wednesday, 9-24-08: Surprise! The pig didn't "pop" after all. It was chilly overnight, and it's still cool. 58 degrees and clear, with a light wind and 83% humidity.
@9:00am, Wednesday, 9-24-08: Surprise! The pig didn't "pop" after all. It was chilly overnight, and it's still cool. 58 degrees and clear, with a light wind and 83% humidity.Courtesy SMM

The cool temperatures might slow things down, but we're supposed to get back into the 70s this afternoon.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 9:19am
bryan kennedy's picture

If you look at this picture bigger (click on it) you can see something kinda fascinating. There are all kinds of little tracks leading out of the blood pooling behind the pig. I am assuming these are left from the little bugs crawling away from the pig. Hey Val? Is this a common thing that you see at some stage of decomposition? I took some closeup pictures of it earlier today and will post them a little bit later.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 4:09pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Insect tracks in the blood
Insect tracks in the bloodCourtesy bryan kennedy
Here is a closeup pic of the insect tracks that I was talking about.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 4:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Seven, Image 2

@11:15am, Wednesday, 9-24-08: It's 60 degrees and clear, with light winds, and 59% humidity.
@11:15am, Wednesday, 9-24-08: It's 60 degrees and clear, with light winds, and 59% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Need close ups!

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 11:30am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

It is just getting more bloated - both back legs now appear to be in the air! Awesome!

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 12:31pm
Val Cervenka's picture

I must say, Joe, you really seem to be getting into all this. Do I smell a new vocation? Or is that just 7-day-old pig remains in classic bloat stage?

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 4:07pm
Liza's mom's picture
Liza's mom says:

What are those little bumps across the pig's abdomen? They almost look like nipple wannabees. Somehow I thought things would go much faster -- maybe it's the semi-sterile environment. I have heard that in traditional patriarchal cultures, such as rural Greece and Italy, it used to be the custom for a widow to dig up her husband's body a year after burial. If there was a nice polished skull, she was free to remarry. Otherwise --- back to the ground and wait another year! I wonder how long it will take for Liza's pig to get down to skeleton?

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 12:08pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Well, there are a lot of bumps on the pig's abdomen, but I think the bumps you're referring to are nipples. Pigs are mammals, after all, and we've all got 'em.

If we had the pig in full sun, and it were hotter outside, then decomposition might go faster. Also, if we'd wrapped the pig, or dressed it -- anything to trap all that fluid against the pig's skin. But truly, things ARE moving right along.

I tried to find a reference to the burial custom you mention, but I didn't turn anything up. I did find a bunch of other interesting ones, so I'll write more about that tomorrow.

I'm betting that our pig won't get skeletonized. I think it will be too cold before that happens, and the museum's not going to let us leave it around until next summer. But we'll see how far we get before the temperature's consistently at or below 50 degrees.

Val or Aaron: any estimates of what we can expect to see next and when? I know there are formulas you can use, based on weather data, to determine time of death. Are there rules of thumb for looking forward instead of backward?

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 10:18pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here are the day 7 close-ups.
No video, today, Buzzketeers. Sorry. [EDIT: Bryan just told me that he did capture some video today, and I have the movies, but YouTube isn't allowing uploads right now due to site maintenance. Tomorrow, Buzzers, tomorrow...]

Remember: These are graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 4:12pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I added the videos. They're on the Day 7 close-ups page (link above).

Enjoy, but maybe not over lunch?

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 12:21pm
Cari's picture
Cari says:

The blood tracks look like spin art. Are the maggots dragging the blood around and creating those little blood tracks?

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 5:34pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Probably. A few years ago we hosted an insect entomology exhibit and a forensic scientist told me of a case where they found a body in a room that was covered in blood droplets. All over the walls, everywhere smatters of dried blood. At first they thought this was evidence of a struggle and a murder, but the case turned out to be a suicide and the tracks were caused by cockroaches.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 8:14pm
Aaron Tarone's picture
Aaron Tarone says:

Those tracks look a lot like the maggot art that Rebecca O'Flaherty does (http://www.maggotart.com/).

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 7:43pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Oh, I'd forgotten about maggotart.com! Thanks so much for posting the link!

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 10:34pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Seven, Image 3

@9:45pm, Wednesday, 9-24-08: It's 57 degrees, calm, and clear, with 71% humidity.
@9:45pm, Wednesday, 9-24-08: It's 57 degrees, calm, and clear, with 71% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 10:41pm
Mellow D's picture
Mellow D says:

The Day 4 discussion covered the impact of keeping the pig off the ground in terms of how that may slow decomposition. Couldn't decomposition be accelerated by the nonporous pan retaining all the fluids that those maggots like so much?
Also, will the gas escape only when the maggots emerge through the skin; or can it escape the way it escapes from me after I eat broccoli?

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 11:33pm
Val Cervenka's picture

I don't think decomposition is slowed by what the animal happens to be laying on, although that's a good question. It more a question of locality and the microclimate surrounding the remains. The fluids on the pan will dry out, and while adult flies might investigate, they won't be laying eggs in it - not enough substrate. The maggots are feeding mostly on soft tissue. Gas escapes when feeding creates openings in the flesh

As for how it escapes you, I'm not going there.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 8:27pm
Imholte Fan Club's picture
Imholte Fan Club says:

Can we get a pic of the area around the pig? I wanted to get an idea of the general surroundings - exposure to wind, sun, etc. I've heard mention of the soffitt - but what else is nearby?

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 12:35pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

IFC, if you didn't see them, the pics you requested are here.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 3:14pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eight, Image 1

Sorry to keep everyone waiting for pig updates today. Some technical difficulties and an overscheduling problem have eaten up most of the day. AND I neglected to note weather data this morning. Anyway...

@10:20am, Thursday, 9-25-08: I neglected to note any weather data when I snapped this one from the feed. But Weather Underground says that at 10am it was 63 degrees and cloudy, with light winds, and 56% humidity.
@10:20am, Thursday, 9-25-08: I neglected to note any weather data when I snapped this one from the feed. But Weather Underground says that at 10am it was 63 degrees and cloudy, with light winds, and 56% humidity.Courtesy SMM

The pig is SO MUCH BIGGER than it was when we started. Now it completely fills the frame. Val, Aaron, how much bigger can it get? Are we close to the next phase of decomposition now?

And it's MUCH stinkier than it has been up 'til now. I think you told Joe, Val, that the smell would be worst at the very end of the bloat stage. Is that right?

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 4:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

To be honest, Liza, I think the smell in the stage of "advanced decomposition" is worse; you know, where more putrefaction is going on. But that's just me. The opinion, I mean, not the smell.

Can we know the upper limits of bloating? It's going to be different with every case, and would depend on factors such as weather, humidity, size of the animal and how quickly flies get going. This is the kind of thing that gets measured at the Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee, given the quaint name, the "Body Farm." All kinds of data are collected from the human corpses there, to be applied in practical situations where the information is needed to estimate time since death or identify remains, for example.

By the way, you can sign up to donate your remains to the Anthropology Research Facility, but there's a waiting list, so...

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 12:36pm
Val Cervenka's picture

That was me Val, above, not Anon. Don't know why that happened.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 8:59pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eight, Image 2

Roll over, piggy!

@4pm, Thursday, 9-25-08: It's 74 degrees, calm, and clear, with 49% humidity.
@4pm, Thursday, 9-25-08: It's 74 degrees, calm, and clear, with 49% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Note the new cluster of flies near the pig's back legs. Wonder what's going on there?

Roger said he'd get me some closeups and video today, but the cage key is still here. Better go score a camera and shoot some myself.

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 4:42pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day 8 close ups

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 10:34pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eight, Image 3
Is the bloat stage almost over? That hole in the belly is new since this afternoon (although we've been watching and waiting for it to appear since a few days ago).

@10:30pm, Thursday, 9-25-08: 68 degrees and clear, with light winds and 53% humidity.
@10:30pm, Thursday, 9-25-08: 68 degrees and clear, with light winds and 53% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 10:55pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The holes in the belly are still only "skin deep." But I bet something dramatic happens today. (Is that wishful thinking?)

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 11:14am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I know what you mean by dramatic, but I think that pig is full of drama right now!

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 11:27am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nine, Image 1

We had to move the piggy a bit, Buzzketeers. Folks on Level 2 could smell it a bit inside the building, and that's no fun. So we've moved the cage. Doing that jostled things around a bit (you can see a sort of "clean" area near the front legs where the movement caused a new burst of fluids), and it means we're now going to see some shadows moving around over the course of the day. Sorry about that.

I didn't pull an early morning image from the feed, either. Apologies again. But here's what it looks like right now.

@11am, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 72 degrees, calm, and clear, with 70% humidity.
@11am, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 72 degrees, calm, and clear, with 70% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Forecast high temperature is 85 degrees. Should be interesting...especially now that the pig is exposed to the sun.

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 11:10am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

One of the things I noticed while moving the cage was the juices that escaped were glistening. Then, on closer inspection, they weren't glistening, they were moving. Crawling with maggots. So yuck. And the smell today was world class. Bryan called it right - you're fine for a while then you get a strong wiff and its gag material.

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 11:29am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

So, while riding my bike into work this morning, I starting thinking about turkey vultures. We often see them outside the museum, riding the thermals that rise off the river bluffs. They're carrion eaters, and they're exquisitely sensitive to the smell of dead things. Obviously, they can't get into the cage. But I've expected to see them checking it out, or at least circling above, and so far...nothing. Kind of odd, I think.

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 11:22am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nine, Image 2

I think the sun and the clear, warm day are speeding things along. If you look closely, you can see maggots moving underneath the tissue-thin layer of skin at the surface. And there are a LOT of tiny maggots turning up on the belly, now, not just in the body's creases.

@12:30pm, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 76 degrees, clear, and calm, with 62% humidity.
@12:30pm, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 76 degrees, clear, and calm, with 62% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 1:31pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nine, Image 3

@2:45pm, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 83 degrees and clear, with light winds, and 44% humidity.
@2:45pm, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 83 degrees and clear, with light winds, and 44% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 3:25pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nine, Image 4
OK, it's really tough to see, but while John, Roger, and I were outside shooting today's close-up images, the pig's "hernia" popped. It's really tough to see here, but that new cluster of flies is pretty darn excited about the new real estate...

Piggy no longer has a hernia
Piggy no longer has a herniaCourtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 3:28pm
YSC Robby's picture
YSC Robby says:

Are you able to take those close-up images without covering your faces or wearing respirators? I checked little piggy out yesterday evening and it was challenging to stay in the vicinity very long. Maybe you all are just tougher than I am, or you've acclimated yourself to the stench with your several-times-a-day visits. Just curious. Oh, and how is this hernia different than the one we humans can get in our abdominal area?

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 4:18pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

It doesn't smell good, that's for sure. But I find myself getting used to it within seconds. And really, I don't think that standing out by the pig is much worse than standing next to a big dumpster in August. It stinks. And if you breathe in really deep, or you accidentally jiggle the pig, well, it stinks worse. But we aren't covering our faces or breathing through filters.

In theory, the pig's "hernia" is just like a human's. A hernia is the bulging of an organ through the tissue that usually contains it. When most people hear the word, they think of an abdominal or groin hernia, where a weakness in the muscle allows a bit of intestine to poke through. And that's kind of what's happened here: decomposition has weakened the abdominal wall enough to allow organs -- probably intestines -- to pop through.

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 4:34pm
YSC Robby's picture
YSC Robby says:

Thanks for the response Liza. Once I saw your up close hernia pictures my question was answered. That was one nasty hernia. Good thing piggy was dead or that would have hurt like the dickens!

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 1:17pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I got my first face to face with the piggy this afternoon, and, yeah, like Liza said, it's not as bad as you'd think.

I think a big part of the smell's grossness is that you know it's coming from a swollen, gooey corpse, crawling in maggots. It's the sort of thing that if you just smelled it while walking down the street you wouldn't be super pleased with it, but it probably wouldn't be unbearable either.

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 4:48pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nine, Image 5

Oh, my.

There's not much left here that's recognizably "pig" besides the little cloven hooves. I guess that pop we saw this afternoon really was the beginning of something much, much bigger. Or maggot-ier, anyway.

@10:30pm, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 73 degrees, clear, and calm, with 58% humidity.
@10:30pm, Friday, 9-26-08: It's 73 degrees, clear, and calm, with 58% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 10:29pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Holy cow! What a difference just a few hours makes! I am glad the new location still gets light from the soffit - I can't wait to see if we can pinpoint the frames when this is happening. It is amazing how much work a ton a maggots can do!

posted on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 10:35pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

At first I had trouble wrapping my head around how such a big change could happen so quickly, Was there a rupture that released all these maggots from the inside?

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 8:06am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Ten, Image 1

I thought I was impressed yesterday, and I knew that I should expect a change from last night, given how fast things were progressing yesterday, but...wow.

@9am, Saturday, 9-27-08: It's 60 degrees, calm, and overcast, with 90% humidity.
@9am, Saturday, 9-27-08: It's 60 degrees, calm, and overcast, with 90% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 9:03am
Julia's picture
Julia says:

That is a lot of liquified pig! It seems that the recent bit of warm weather really helped the process along!

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 12:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Ten, Image 2

The rapid pace continues....It's an absolutely AMAZING amount of maggots. (Yes, Buzzketeers, we took close-ups.)

@7:00pm, Saturday, 9-27-08: It's 61 degrees and overcast, with light winds and 82% humidity. Overnight low temperature is forecast at 49 degrees. So it will be interesting to see what the morning brings.
@7:00pm, Saturday, 9-27-08: It's 61 degrees and overcast, with light winds and 82% humidity. Overnight low temperature is forecast at 49 degrees. So it will be interesting to see what the morning brings.Courtesy SMM

Phoebe, age 5, and Stella, age 3, got to see the pig up-close and in-person early this afternoon. Their report?
Phoebe: "That pig is so nasty."
Stella: "He smells disgusting.
So there you go. The truth, right from the mouths of babes.

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 7:05pm
EWatson02's picture
EWatson02 says:

I've just joined the Buzz, so I'm coming to this party a little late, but wow, this entire process has been just amazing. And I was genuinely surprised at how quickly Mr. Piggy has liquefied; I literally gasped when I saw the difference between the fourth and fifth Day Nine pictures. Thanks for sharing them with us!

Decomposition: the grossest cool thing EVER.

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 8:42pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Ten, Image 3

OK, y'all, I am SO SAD we don't have a public live feed going right now, because I can't even describe what I'm seeing there. There are literally WAVES of maggots swarming all over everything.

@10:15pm, Saturday, 9-27-08: It's 60 degrees and mostly cloudy, with light winds and 84% humidity. Overnight low is forecast to be 49 degrees, but that won't be until about 7am, and then the temperature should rebound pretty quickly.
@10:15pm, Saturday, 9-27-08: It's 60 degrees and mostly cloudy, with light winds and 84% humidity. Overnight low is forecast to be 49 degrees, but that won't be until about 7am, and then the temperature should rebound pretty quickly.Courtesy SMM

I have an early morning game, and so won't be able to post any shots until at least 10. Probably closer to 11. Wonder if there will be anything left to see?

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 10:17pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eleven, Image 1

Somehow this morning's first shot isn't as breathtaking as yesterday's last shot. But the maggots stayed busy, and they're super active right now despite the cool temperatures.

@10:30am, Sunday, 9-28-08: It's 55 degrees, calm, and overcast (drizzling a bit, really), with 95% humidity.
@10:30am, Sunday, 9-28-08: It's 55 degrees, calm, and overcast (drizzling a bit, really), with 95% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 10:35am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eleven, Image 2

@3:45, Sunday, 9-28-08: It's 62 degrees and overcast, with light winds, and 80% humidity.
@3:45, Sunday, 9-28-08: It's 62 degrees and overcast, with light winds, and 80% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 3:42pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eleven, Image 3

@7:20pm, Sunday, 9-28-08: OK, I forgot to record the weather data at 7:20. It's now 9:45, 61 degrees, clear, and calm, with 81% humidity.
@7:20pm, Sunday, 9-28-08: OK, I forgot to record the weather data at 7:20. It's now 9:45, 61 degrees, clear, and calm, with 81% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Overnight temperatures this week will be in the low 40s, with daytime highs in the low 60s. Wonder if things will slow down again because of the cold?

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 9:51pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Do the maggots generate their own heat? Someone told me that when internal temperatures became too hot the maggots would migrate to the surface to cool off.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 7:20am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Maggots don't generate heat the way that, say, people do. That is, they're not "warm-blooded." But once there's a big mass of maggots, they generate heat through friction as they move around. (Bacterial decay can generate heat, too.) And that can complicate time of death calculations.

Maggots do come to the surface to cool off when things get too hot inside.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 9:39am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I would think the chemical reactions of their metabolism would contribute more to the heat generated than friction ( they seem to be well lubricated).

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 10:03am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Maybe their chewing generates heat? Thousands of little mandibles... ugh.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 10:42am
Val Cervenka's picture

I agree, Mr. Factor. And if the maggots didn't crawl in and out of the mass, they would literally cook - the temperature inside the maggot mass can be 20 or more degrees hotter than air temperature. I've been amazed to put a thermometer into a pan full of maggots and see the mercury go to the top.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 9:09pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twelve, Image 1

@9:30am, Monday, 9-29-08: It's 56 degrees and calm right now (it's supposed to get windy later), with scattered clouds and 84% humidity.
@9:30am, Monday, 9-29-08: It's 56 degrees and calm right now (it's supposed to get windy later), with scattered clouds and 84% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 9:32am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Just went down to see the pig, and in person...quite intense. Also the smell today is harder for me to deal with then on Friday. It is definately not as strong, but it has changed somehow - it is now...sweeter?

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 11:27am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twelve, Image 2

@1:30pm, Monday, 9-29-08: It's 62 degrees and partly cloudy, with light winds, and 54% humidity.
@1:30pm, Monday, 9-29-08: It's 62 degrees and partly cloudy, with light winds, and 54% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 1:38pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Wow....can I put dibs on the pig's skin so I can make my own homemade football? This thing is going to be toast before CSI even opens.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 3:39pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Dude, go down there and check the skin out in person—I don't think anyone's going to fight you for it. I don't think anyone's going to fight you for that football, either, so maybe it's not such a bad idea.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 3:50pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Actually, it will make a great football....no one will want to tackle me while I'm carrying it, either.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 4:30pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

We knew that decomposition would likely be over, or almost over, by the time the exhibit opened. We had to put the pig out, anyway, because insect activity largely stops once the air temperature is consistently 50 degrees. And that could be any day now.

I'm about to post today's close-ups, but I can tell you this: while it looks, from the top, like the action's all over, there's still plenty of activity going on underneath.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 4:24pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

I made my first in-person visit to the pig today and was surprised by how much hair/fur is still on the pig. That really doesn't show up in the photos at all.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 4:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

aww, broken link :(

who knew searching for "pig" would turn up something so facinating... what a wonderful way to spend a saturday morning

posted on Sat, 01/31/2009 - 9:27am
Lettgirl's picture
Lettgirl says:

Lett girl
I am just hoping the smell is gone by tomorrow morning! What makes the smell, anyway?

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 4:49pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I don't know what makes the smell different, day-by-day. Maybe Val or Aaron can answer that. I do know that most of the stench, generally, is caused by two molecules produced by the breakdown of amino acids: cadaverine and putrescine. Their names about say it all, huh?

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 5:30pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twelve, Image 3

@5:15pm, Monday, 9-29-08: It's 60 degrees, overcast, and windy, with 52% humidity.
@5:15pm, Monday, 9-29-08: It's 60 degrees, overcast, and windy, with 52% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Also, here are today's closeups.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 5:20pm
Julia's picture
Julia says:

So, normally (presuming the pig were not protected by a cage), would other scavengers work away at the skin?

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 8:51am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Val can probably give a better answer, but I think so. However, there are also other scavenging insects that would (will?) move in after the maggots—maggots will eat soft, moist flesh, but once a body dries out and becomes tough, a variety of beetles and things show up to chew at the harder tissue.

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 9:20am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

When the pig was "fresher" or more recently deceased it would have been a target for animal scavengers. In this stage, not so much. In an earlier post Liza was wondering why turkey vultures had not taken an interest in the pig.

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 3:47pm
Karen's picture
Karen says:

I asked a birding friend about the turkey vultures. Here's her response.

"Cool about the pig!

There could be a couple of reasons--turkey vultures will eat food at various stages of decay, but prefer fresher dead foods--perhaps road kill is fresher?

Also, the pig is in a cage and a hard to access area. The amount of people around the museum is probably making them wary."

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 11:47am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Thirteen, Image 1

@11am, Tuesday, 9-30-08: It's 52 degrees and partly cloudy with light winds and 65% humidity. But the overnight low was 43, and tomorrow and Thursday nights are supposed to be even colder...
@11am, Tuesday, 9-30-08: It's 52 degrees and partly cloudy with light winds and 65% humidity. But the overnight low was 43, and tomorrow and Thursday nights are supposed to be even colder...Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 10:55am
Liza's mom's picture
Liza's mom says:

But where are the bones in its legs? In fact, where are the bones at all?

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 11:19am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

They're there. They're a very dark brown color right now, which makes them hard to pick out in the photos. Click on an image to see it larger.

I marked some places where you should look closely.

Pig bones: In a few places the bones are visible, but tough to pick out in the photos because of their dark brown color. (If you look at yesterday's closeups, you can see them easily.) I marked up this photo to give you an idea of where to look.
Pig bones: In a few places the bones are visible, but tough to pick out in the photos because of their dark brown color. (If you look at yesterday's closeups, you can see them easily.) I marked up this photo to give you an idea of where to look.Courtesy SMM

EDITED THURSDAY, 10/2: Hey, look at the Day 13 close-ups. (They're not that shocking and disgusting. Honest.) In them, you can easily and clearly see many of the bones. The ribs are still covered by the remaining skin, as are the remaining bones of the skull. But the big bones--the legs, etc--are easy to pick out in the close ups.

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 11:25am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Thirteen, Image 2

@10:45pm, Tuesday, 9-30-08: It's 49 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 77% humidity.
@10:45pm, Tuesday, 9-30-08: It's 49 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 77% humidity.Courtesy SMM

I'm still seeing plenty of movement on the webcam, despite the cool temperatures. In fact, if you compare to today's earlier image, there seem to be many, many more maggots. But maybe those are all the maggots that were in the corners of the cage earlier today looking for a warmer place to spend the night?

Fear not, Buzzers. Roger did take close-ups today.

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 10:47pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Fourteen, Image 1

@12pm, Wednesday, 10-1-08: It's 55 degrees, mostly cloudy, and windy, with 55% humidity.
@12pm, Wednesday, 10-1-08: It's 55 degrees, mostly cloudy, and windy, with 55% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:27pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Oh, I miss him already, and he's not even gone.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:36pm
liza's mom's picture
liza's mom says:

I've been thinking about our liquifying friend here, and I wonder whether the fact that he was frozen and then thawed made a difference in the rate and type of decomposition. We know that freezing and thawing tissue does real damage -- in plants anyway, it seems to destroy the cells and turn everything to mush.

So maybe the piggy would have taken a lot longer to disappear if he had died in place!

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 7:01pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

That's interesting.

On the other hand, maybe the freezing/thawing kept the initial insect colonizers from finding the pig right away? Heck, I've seen injured but still very much alive animals already sporting blooms of at least 1st-instar maggots. They find carrion (or soon-to-be-carrion) FAST. But it took a while for us to find clusters of eggs/maggots on the piggy.

Seems like the freezing issue is one that forensic entomologists have had to consider before. Maybe Aaron or Val will weigh in here.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 11:05am
Val Cervenka's picture

Freezing and thawing can affect those initial colonizers, the blow flies. It's possible that frozen and thawed tissue breaks down in a way that makes it unattractive to them, so that other, later colonizers will be attracted first instead.

posted on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 12:09am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Fourteen, Image 2

Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday, but I didn't forget to snap the shot. I'm just lazy. :)

@8pm, Wednesday, 10-1-08: It's 54 degrees and partly cloudy, with light winds, and 54% humidity.
@8pm, Wednesday, 10-1-08: It's 54 degrees and partly cloudy, with light winds, and 54% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Also, Day 14 closeups.

posted on Thu, 10/02/2008 - 9:39am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Fifteen, Image 1

@9:30am, Thursday, 10-2-08: It's 46 degrees, calm, and clear, with 89% humidity.
@9:30am, Thursday, 10-2-08: It's 46 degrees, calm, and clear, with 89% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Thu, 10/02/2008 - 9:42am
Aaron Tarone's picture
Aaron Tarone says:

Liz,
About the stench. You are right about the amino acid break down- I love those chemical names. Additionally, you have to consider all of the bacteria involved in the decomposition process. They are a source of the gas in the bloat stage, and, since their metabolism is anaerobic, they release all sorts of chemicals, including nitrogen and sulphur based gasses (i.e. ammonia and sulphur dioxide), during this process. Once the bloat stage ends, there should be less of a dominance of anaerobic bacteria and their related smells. In general , changes in bacterial community composition should be occurring throughout the decay process, which should also alter the composition of metabolism products that bacteria produce. As an interesting note: during my PhD, I noticed that replicate jars of the same age could sometimes acquire different smells. Another factor to consider is that once skeletonization has occurred a lot of stinky pig has been converted into relatively unstinky fly biomass. You might want to check with a forensic taphonomist to get better details.

Aaron

posted on Thu, 10/02/2008 - 1:02pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Fifteen, Image 2

@3:45pm, Thursday, 10-2-08: It's 65 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 46% humidity.
@3:45pm, Thursday, 10-2-08: It's 65 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 46% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Oh, yeah: close-ups.

posted on Thu, 10/02/2008 - 3:48pm
Karen's picture
Karen says:

Got my first in-person visit with the pig yesterday. Even got to poke at piggy with a stick. The remaining skin is pretty hard and made a hollow knocking sound.

I've seen only a few dead things in my life but lots of fires and I was surprised how much the detritus looks like remnants from burning. The innards look blackened and charred (down to the ridges common in burned wood) and there are wispy bits that remind me of ash.

The maggots writhing in the corner will forever alter the way I view 'snow' on my tv screen. Out of the corner of your eye, the movement is the same.

The smell was still potent when you got up close or when the wind blew at you. It reminded me of something I've smelled before. Something farm/stable-like. Later that evening, I could still catch whiffs of it on my clothes, not a bad smell (I like farms) until you remembered where it came from.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 12:25pm
Val Cervenka's picture

All this talk about smell reminds me of a paper I read once correlating the degree of decomposition with the concentration of ethanol in the body fluids of the deceased. The authors developed this as a way to tell if alcohol in the body was consumed before death or was formed in the body after death.

Anyway, they developed a system to establish "the degree of putrefaction," based on the changes that occur in decompoistion. Point values were given for each change, and the sums were used to define categories of putrefaction: mild, mild to moderate,moderate and severe. The system was known as the SMELLBAD system:

S - skin slippage
M - mummification
E - eyes
L - livid streaks, marbling
L - limpness (rigor)
B - bloating
A - appalling effusions (purging)
D - discoloration

(Zumwalt et al., 1982. Evaluation of Ethnol Concentration in Decomposed Bodies. J For. Sci. 27(3):549-554)

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 9:11pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Sixteen, Image 1

@11am, Friday, 10-3-08: It's 48 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 72% humidity.
@11am, Friday, 10-3-08: It's 48 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm, with 72% humidity.Courtesy SMM

Overnight low temperature was 38 degrees, and it's still a bit nippy out there. Our maggot population seems radically smaller and less wriggly.

Also, Rebecca said we accidentally caught a mouse in one of the sticky traps we put out for the escaping maggots. Bummer. But it makes me wonder if some of the bones that have been moved around were moved by mice instead of maggots?

BTW, the study of what happens to plant or animal remains after the organism dies and before it's recovered is called taphonomy. (The processes of taphonomy include the cause and manner of death, decay, decomposition, transportation, burial, and chemical alterations of the remains.) And rodents and other scavengers are a major cause of bones moving around after a body has decayed.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 11:01am
Aaron Tarone's picture
Aaron Tarone says:

Correcting myself: Sulphur dioxide would be the result of aerobic processes. Hydrogen sulphide would be a gas produced by an anaerobic process.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 1:20pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Sixteen, Image 2

@3:30pm, Friday, 10-3-08: It's 56 degrees and clear, with light winds and 41% humidity.
@3:30pm, Friday, 10-3-08: It's 56 degrees and clear, with light winds and 41% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 3:40pm
Seven's picture
Seven says:

You should flip book of the process and sell it in the SMM shop!!

posted on Sat, 10/04/2008 - 6:52pm
Val Cervenka's picture

Excellent idea! Back in the '80's at an avante-gard film festival in California, I saw a time-lapse film of a dog decomposing. At the time I didn't realize it was a portent of things to come...

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 9:13pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Seventeen, Image 1

[photo coming soon]

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 10:12am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Seventeen, Image 2

[photo coming soon]

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 10:13am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eighteen, Image 1

@10am, Sunday, 10-5-08: It's 47 degrees, calm, and raining, with 91% humidity.
@10am, Sunday, 10-5-08: It's 47 degrees, calm, and raining, with 91% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 10:17am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Eighteen, Image 2

@9:30pm, Sunday, 10-5-08: It's 54 degrees and calm, with scattered clouds and 86% humidity.
@9:30pm, Sunday, 10-5-08: It's 54 degrees and calm, with scattered clouds and 86% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 9:24pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Amazing given the temperature that stuff still seems to be disappearing...being eaten.

posted on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 11:17pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nineteen, Image 1

@11:30, Monday, 10-6-08: It's 61 degrees, calm, and mostly cloudy, with 74% humidity.
@11:30, Monday, 10-6-08: It's 61 degrees, calm, and mostly cloudy, with 74% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 10/06/2008 - 11:29am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Nineteen, Image 2

@5:45pm, Monday, 10-6-08: It's 70 degrees (whoo-hoo!), calm, and clear, with 64% humidity.
@5:45pm, Monday, 10-6-08: It's 70 degrees (whoo-hoo!), calm, and clear, with 64% humidity.Courtesy SMM

There are very few maggots still in the cage, but we're starting to see other sorts of beetles. Stay tuned: close-ups are coming...

posted on Mon, 10/06/2008 - 5:53pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

OK, here are the close-ups from day 19:
DAY NINETEEN

posted on Tue, 10/07/2008 - 4:32pm
Val Cervenka's picture

I took a look at your close-ups and they're very nice! One thing that struck me when I saw all the pupae - I sure hope you've got the cage far enough from the building so that you don't have hundreds of adult flies finding their way inside as they search out a place to spend the winter...Just saying.

posted on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 12:00am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty, Image 1

@2:45, Tuesday, 10-7-08: It's 52 degrees and calm, with light rain and 94% humidity.
@2:45, Tuesday, 10-7-08: It's 52 degrees and calm, with light rain and 94% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 10/07/2008 - 3:21pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-One, Image 1

@2:30pm, Wednesday, 10-8-08: It's 66 degrees, clear, and calm, with 42% humidity.
@2:30pm, Wednesday, 10-8-08: It's 66 degrees, clear, and calm, with 42% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Wed, 10/08/2008 - 3:04pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-Two, Image 1

I never thought I'd say it, friends, but the piggy's getting a little boring. There's a whole lot of not much going on out in the ol' Ed Corral. But we have close-up shots from today. (Thanks, Roger.)

@4:30pm, Thursday, 10-9-08: It's 60 degrees and clear, with light winds and 25% humidity.
@4:30pm, Thursday, 10-9-08: It's 60 degrees and clear, with light winds and 25% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 4:34pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-Three, Image 1

@9:30am, Friday, 10-10-08: It's 49 degrees and overcast, with light winds and 66% humidity.
@9:30am, Friday, 10-10-08: It's 49 degrees and overcast, with light winds and 66% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 9:43am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-Five, Image 1

@10pm, Sunday, 10-12-08: It's 71 degrees, clear, and calm, with 70% humidity.
@10pm, Sunday, 10-12-08: It's 71 degrees, clear, and calm, with 70% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 10:03pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Twenty-Seven close-ups

All right, here are the close-ups for day 27, 10-14-08.

@3pm, Tuesday, 10-14-08: Day 27, 10/14/08
@3pm, Tuesday, 10-14-08: Day 27, 10/14/08Courtesy Roger Barrett

posted on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 4:24pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-Seven, Image 1

And here's today's webshot. There's not much happening out there now that nights are so chilly. Tonight's low is forecast for the neighborhood of 45 degrees, but it was in the 30s last night and will be again tomorrow.

@11pm, Tuesday, 10-14-08: It's 50 degrees and mostly cloudy, with light winds and 62% humidity.
@11pm, Tuesday, 10-14-08: It's 50 degrees and mostly cloudy, with light winds and 62% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:05pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Actually, if you look back at the webcam shots over the last few days, the skin that remains on the pig's torso seems to be slowly, slowly changing color. There's a dark spot spreading from by the pig's back legs and creeping toward the front. Val, what's going on there?

posted on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:22pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-Six, Images 1 & 2

Sorry, Buzzketeers. I took these photos yesterday, 10-13, but I didn't post 'em. That's the kind of slacker I am.

I did record temperature data at 12:30pm, but not in the later afternoon. Since nothing's going on with the piggy, anyway, I'll just tell you that yesterday's high, according to Weather Underground, was 70 degrees, and the low was 43.

@12:30pm, Monday, 10-13-08: It's 53 degrees, with "heavy rain mist" and light winds, and 91% humidity.
@12:30pm, Monday, 10-13-08: It's 53 degrees, with "heavy rain mist" and light winds, and 91% humidity.Courtesy SMM

@2:30pm, Monday, 10-13-08
@2:30pm, Monday, 10-13-08Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:20pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Twenty-Nine, Image 1

Look carefully: there are now a bunch of big adult flies hanging out on the piggy.

@12pm, Thursday, 10-16-08: It's 53 degrees and calm, with scattered clouds and 51% humidity.
@12pm, Thursday, 10-16-08: It's 53 degrees and calm, with scattered clouds and 51% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:32pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I wonder if those are second generation flies?

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 8:06pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty, Image 1

It's been about a month, and it looks like the piggy is about tapped out. No flies even (but it's pretty chilly right now).
@9:15am, Friday, 10-17-08: It's 45 degrees and calm, with few clouds and 56% humidity.
@9:15am, Friday, 10-17-08: It's 45 degrees and calm, with few clouds and 56% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 9:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that is just gross i dont even no why u would shouw that!!!!! ) :

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 3:41pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty, Image 2

Not much has changed since this morning. A couple flies are checking things out. But, really, can you ever have too many pictures of a dead pig on the Internet? Answer: no.

And here are today's close-ups.@4:00pm, Friday, 10-17-08: It's 52 degrees and slightly gusty (7 mph), with few clouds and 59% humidity
@4:00pm, Friday, 10-17-08: It's 52 degrees and slightly gusty (7 mph), with few clouds and 59% humidityCourtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 4:06pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This could be traumatizing for children. This site should be better marked for adults to be aware. We are at the science museum. Mostly kids here.

posted on Sun, 10/19/2008 - 3:54pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I'm sorry if you found the pig cam disturbing. That wasn't our intent.

We have tried to let everyone visiting this page know, in advance, what they're seeing, but it doesn't always work.

As a parent, only you know what's appropriate for your child. I've taken my kids, who are 5 and 3, out to look at the pig in person, and they ask to see it on the web. They understand that everything living dies sometime and that decomposition is how our components are recycled. They also think the pig is gross. And that sounds about right to me. I don't think they're traumatized, and I hope other children aren't either.

posted on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 7:31pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-three, Image 1

There seem to be some flies on the pig this morning. It was a nice warm weekend, so I'm interested if there has been any change over the last couple days. I'll get some close ups this afternoon.@10:30am, Monday, 10-20-08: It's 47 degrees and there are 6 mph winds, with a clear sky and 63% humidity.
@10:30am, Monday, 10-20-08: It's 47 degrees and there are 6 mph winds, with a clear sky and 63% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 10:43am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-three, Image 2

Well... the sun has changed position. And it's less humid. But the pig...

And here are the close-ups.@5:30pm, Monday, 10-10-08: It's 52 degrees and there are 9 mph gusts of wind, with a clear sky and 31% humidity.
@5:30pm, Monday, 10-10-08: It's 52 degrees and there are 9 mph gusts of wind, with a clear sky and 31% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 6:05pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-four, Image 1

About noon on day 34. Enjoy.@11:50am, Tuesday, 10-21-08: It's 45 degrees and calm, with few clouds and 58% humidity.
@11:50am, Tuesday, 10-21-08: It's 45 degrees and calm, with few clouds and 58% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 11:56am
bay's picture
bay says:

amazing wow !!! within less than a month period !!

posted on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 12:21pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-four, Image 2

We can see a remarkable phenomenon happening here, something I like to refer to as "afternoon-pig." What's interesting about it is its striking similarity to "morning-pig."

I'll grab some more close-ups, but they might not go on the site until tomorrow.@5:30pm, Tuesday, 10-21-08: It's 50 degrees and winds are 4 mph, with clear skies, and 42% humidity.
@5:30pm, Tuesday, 10-21-08: It's 50 degrees and winds are 4 mph, with clear skies, and 42% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 5:42pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-four close-ups

A day late, but here are the close-ups

posted on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 9:42am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-five, Image 1

not much happening, but here's the pig on day 35, 10/22/08.@10:00am, Wednesday, 10-22-08: It's 41 degrees and there are 2 mph winds, with scattered clouds, light rain, and 77% humidity.
@10:00am, Wednesday, 10-22-08: It's 41 degrees and there are 2 mph winds, with scattered clouds, light rain, and 77% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 10:08am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-five, Image 2 and close-ups

Here's the pig at about 5:15pm, and here are the close-ups.@5:15pm, Wednesday, 10-22-08: It's 43 degrees and the wind is blowing at 2 mph, with overcast skies and 83% humidity.
@5:15pm, Wednesday, 10-22-08: It's 43 degrees and the wind is blowing at 2 mph, with overcast skies and 83% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 5:18pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Day Thirty-six, Image 1@10:45am, Wednesday, 10/23/08: It's 44 degrees and calm, with clear skies and 63% humidity.
@10:45am, Wednesday, 10/23/08: It's 44 degrees and calm, with clear skies and 63% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 10:47am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I was looking back at some old posts, and I came across this one. Hey, John: next year, let's bury a dead pig in a bog and see what happens!

posted on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 3:22pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Ooh! I'm all for it! I wonder if Warner Nature Center or the research center would be cool with that...

But I want to dress the pig up this time. Gym shorts and an ironic T, maybe.

Man, I'm going to spend all spring burying pigs.

posted on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 4:06pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Thirty-Seven, Image 1

A whole lotta nothin' going on out in the Big Back Yard...

@4:20pm, Friday, 10-24-08: It's 51 degrees and overcast, with 67% humidity and light winds.
@4:20pm, Friday, 10-24-08: It's 51 degrees and overcast, with 67% humidity and light winds.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 4:27pm
Chicken man's picture
Chicken man says:

how come?

posted on Sat, 10/25/2008 - 5:52pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Because, my friend, it has gotten cold outside. Most of the pig's decomposition is being driven by insects, and insect activity is greatly reduced or even stopped entirely once the temperature drops below 50 degrees. So the pig might stay like this for a long, long time.

posted on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 2:56pm
tylerr's picture
tylerr says:

that was very grose and sad poor animails

posted on Sat, 10/25/2008 - 2:41pm
Brendan Urke's picture
Brendan Urke says:

I Learned something in science that says; an animal that has no exposure to decomposers will eventually mummified. That is if the specimin has been "Deliquified."(that means it has not been saturated in liquid for over an hour)

posted on Sat, 10/25/2008 - 5:09pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Lots of things can make a mummy. I was recently at the Mutter Museum where they have a soap mummy.

posted on Sat, 11/29/2008 - 4:24pm
BlackRose's picture
BlackRose says:

That is cool where was it!!!
Ps i love your avatar i loved that anime!!!

posted on Mon, 05/07/2012 - 6:09pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Forty-One, Image 1

Yup, still not much of anything happening out there. Alas. But temps are supposed to climb back into the 50s later in the week. Maybe even hit 60. So all's not lost. Yet...

@3:00, Tuesday, 10-28-08: It's 45 degrees, clear and calm, with 25% humidity. But the overnight low was 22 degrees, and it was plenty windy.
@3:00, Tuesday, 10-28-08: It's 45 degrees, clear and calm, with 25% humidity. But the overnight low was 22 degrees, and it was plenty windy.Courtesy SMM

posted on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 3:00pm
dellax28's picture
dellax28 says:

Della Xiong
this is very interesting seeing the dead pigs cam, it is just like the human

posted on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 5:59pm
samanthapha's picture

That's Really Cool but then still nasty. This is very interesting seeing the pig cam. And it's right outside of the Science museum too, I'm Even more amaze with this Pig experiment.

posted on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 6:03pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Day Forty-Four, Image 1

Oh, I see flies buzzing around again. The sun's out, it's much warmer than it has been, and maybe all rotting pig activity hasn't stopped after all!

@2:30pm, Friday, 10-31-08: It's 59 degrees and sunny, with light winds (occasional gusts), and 26% humidity.
@2:30pm, Friday, 10-31-08: It's 59 degrees and sunny, with light winds (occasional gusts), and 26% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 2:31pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I think we need some closeups. But I don't have my camera. Must round up someone else...

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 2:32pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Someone like me.

Really there isn't all that much to see, but I guess I got a couple of new shots in today's close-ups.

Check it out: Day 44 close-ups.

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 4:06pm
librarianm0m's picture
librarianm0m says:

Is the pig still out there? Is this still being updated? Or has everyone been too distracted with the elections? :-)

posted on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 2:40pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Oh, the piggy's still out there. And I'm glad you reminded me. For a while, the temperature was consistently at or below 50 degrees, and decomposition had basically stopped. But it's been warm this week (up until today, anyway) and I should see what's happened...

Here's a shot (Day 50):
@2:00pm, Thursday, 11-6-08: It's 50 degrees, calm, and overcast, with 88% humidity.
@2:00pm, Thursday, 11-6-08: It's 50 degrees, calm, and overcast, with 88% humidity.Courtesy SMM

posted on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 3:01pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

And if you ask really, really nicely, maybe JGordon will go out and take some closeups. :)

posted on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 3:04pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I'm assuming that someone asked really, really nicely at home, but just hasn't typed it out yet.

Day 50 close-ups

posted on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 4:35pm
Carly L. Legal's picture
Carly L. Legal says:

It acctually wasn't half bad. I'd love to see another one soon

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 6:36pm
liza's mom's picture
liza's mom says:

I can't believe there's this much pig still left!!!
I thought he'd be all gone by now!

posted on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 8:29pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I know. It's kind of a bummer, huh?

Bet if we lived in Georgia, piggy'd be history.

posted on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 3:50pm
shay's picture
shay says:

that is cool

posted on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 11:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

jus kill the bugs

posted on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 12:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

how long did it take that pig to decompose fully?

posted on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 2:43pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The pig is still out in the museum's back yard, actually. It hasn't decomposed fully, and it probably won't for a while now that the weather is cold and likely to stay that way.

But I'm glad you asked, because I'm going to post a new image. (Today is Day Fifty-One.)

@2:45pm, Friday, 11-7-08: It's 36 degrees and calm, with light rain and 88% humidity.  (It was snowing this morning.)
@2:45pm, Friday, 11-7-08: It's 36 degrees and calm, with light rain and 88% humidity. (It was snowing this morning.)Courtesy SMM

posted on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 3:51pm
Rubystar's picture
Rubystar says:

4 some reason this reminds me of Lord of the Flies.....

posted on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 2:58pm
Aaron Tarone's picture
Aaron Tarone says:

Val,
I was wondering. How often do you get cases where the victim is this badly decomposed? Of those, how often is the case solved?

posted on Sun, 11/09/2008 - 2:01pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

The time-lapse video is amazing. I especially liked how the vermin kicked it into high gear near the end for the final stretch to Puddleville.

posted on Mon, 11/10/2008 - 12:51pm
Lauren's picture
Lauren says:

this was so gross and nasty!!!!!!!

posted on Fri, 11/14/2008 - 1:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

god, this is gross!! get a life!!!!

posted on Wed, 11/19/2008 - 12:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The amount of flies and maggots gives you good reason to never eat anything that a fly has landed on! Just think where that fly originally came from!!

posted on Sat, 11/29/2008 - 11:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Where oh where are the new close-ups?

posted on Wed, 12/03/2008 - 7:04pm
bryan kennedy's picture

You can click on the days listed above for all the close ups that we have now. The pig is cold and frozen these days and doesn't offer up much in the way of interesting photos.

posted on Thu, 12/04/2008 - 10:09am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this rocks! waz their really a rotting pig in the science museum ?

posted on Fri, 12/05/2008 - 1:54pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

There really was. :)
It's actually still out in the back yard, but it's not really rotting right now, what with the cold and all.

posted on Fri, 12/05/2008 - 2:04pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

`hey so basically you can notice something!!!! :]

posted on Fri, 12/05/2008 - 2:40pm
carol's picture
carol says:

omg thats so sad and nasty....why would someone want to watch that?

posted on Mon, 12/15/2008 - 11:47am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is the grosest thing i've ever seeen! i still thinnk its retty ool that u did his and me and my friend wana try it but we DEFINATELY wont. hanxs 4 the great pics!

posted on Sun, 12/21/2008 - 9:27pm
SiebenSL's picture
SiebenSL says:

This is truley amazing! The way that we can track bugs' life spans to solve crimes is breath taking.

posted on Sat, 12/27/2008 - 11:47am
Eddie's picture
Eddie says:

So this is what happens during the natural process of decay, but what is something is emballed before it dies, or is stuck in some kind of preservative? I know that the process cannot totally eliminate decay, but how does it interfere and affect subsequent decay?

posted on Mon, 12/29/2008 - 6:16pm
andy larson's picture
andy larson says:

What a PIG!!!! This is so cool to watch. Love the explosion of the stomach. Glad we came here.

posted on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 7:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think it is inhumane to kill animals for "research." Dead human bodies are more accurate because they are the "real thing" and no animal is harmed in the process. Human diseases, accidents, murders, etc. are the true laboratory of science and research.

posted on Sat, 01/03/2009 - 3:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Just to clarify: this pig died of natural causes. It wasn't killed so it could be the subject of our pig cam or for any other research project.

It's true that human cadaver studies are the gold standard. That's why institutions such as the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility (the "Body Farm") exist. But human bodies are hard to come by, and pigs are reasonably good stand-ins.

If you'd like to know more about safety testing and other research that often requires the use of human bodies, try Mary Roach's book "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers."

posted on Mon, 01/05/2009 - 4:26pm
Roosevelt81's picture
Roosevelt81 says:

Although this type of research is needed for things like studying crime evidence, studying flight patterns on golf balls with grooves versus dimples is so much less gross. Thank goodness there are people (like Liza) drawn to a variety of professions.

Liza - At what point will this pig's decay be considered complete? No visible bug activity in warm weather? No more significant loss of mass? It seems that 'completely gone' would take many years.

posted on Mon, 01/05/2009 - 4:56pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Yeah, and unfortunately, we won't get to find out.

To do the pigcam at all, we made a deal with other groups that take care of and use the outside space here at SMM; that deal included our removal of the pig corpse in the spring before any of those other groups need to use the space. So last week, during a cold snap, JGordon, armed only with a shovel and a trash bag, gave the piggy an unceremonious send-off involving much holding of breath and a dumpster.

It was a good run, though, wasn't it?

posted on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 5:58pm
Breezy lynn's picture
Breezy lynn says:

AMAZING. I'm soooooooo showing this to my forensics class tommorow <3

posted on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 4:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello! I'm actually doing my thesis on decomposition rates and have had a pig out for 5 months! (Flies JUST started showing up last week!) I've been doing some research and I cant seem to find out one q i have... My carcass is getting little black 'scab-like' defects all over it's body. I've heard this might be blisters from gases, but unlike blisters - you can pick them off....Any ideas?

posted on Tue, 04/14/2009 - 9:46pm
Lady K's picture
Lady K says:

I think this is great, I wish I would have knew about this when it was going on.I'm writing a paper for a college class on Human Decomposition it can only be 3 pages long. High school teacher as a Prof. for real. Do you have anything to add to your findings of the pig plus I would like to know if I can show your pig to my class if I get this Prof. to ok it.

posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 4:28pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

We'd be happy if you showed your class the video and photos. Unfortunately, the pig itself is completely decomposed and the very last little bits were discarded early this year, so the real thing is unavailable.

posted on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 10:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

where is the cam?

posted on Sun, 03/07/2010 - 4:51pm
Lori M's picture
Lori M says:

I am now officially a vegetarian

posted on Sat, 03/27/2010 - 11:26am
amandakaye1993's picture
amandakaye1993 says:

Liza!
I am so happy that I have found this web page! I am in the process of setting up my own little pig farm! I have been inspired by Bill Bass and his body farm that he started at the university on Tennessee ! For my senior project I will be studying decomposition ,and I am going to be using the same process that you have been! I would love to hear your input and I would love your advice as to how I could make this project a success.!

posted on Tue, 01/29/2013 - 9:32pm

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