Bodies Left to Decompose in Texas Field—for Science
Students study decomposition at the 'Body Ranch'
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2013 8:37 AM CDT
Updated Aug 25, 2013 6:34 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Donating one's body to science has rarely sounded so gruesome. CBS DFW shines a light on Texas' "Body Ranch," the final destination for people who have decided to skip the graveyard in favor of a different final resting place. Here, naked bodies are left out in the open, and their decomposition is studied by students at Texas State University in San Marcos. The school's Forensic Anthropology Center calls the 26-acre plot of land an "outdoor human decomposition research laboratory" and notes that it's the largest in the world. (KEYE TV reports that there are three other such facilities in the US.)

The kinds of things researchers have learned, per center head Danny Wescott: "One of the first things a vulture will do is take the eyes out." Amazingly, even with statements like that, people are signing up, with roughly 40 bodies studied since the center opened in 2008 and 90 living people planning to go there when their time is up. It's all for the greater good, though: The insights gleaned about what happens to human remains left in the elements are ultimately put to use in courtrooms around the country. As for what ultimately happens to the skeletons, they go on to become a permanent part of the Texas State Donated Skeletal Collection.

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Showing 3 of 52 comments
MaximusFubaris
Aug 25, 2013 12:18 PM CDT
Im doing it here in Texas. Hell, why have an elaborate funeral, just to show your dead lifeless, and souless body to everyone, who will forget your name in 50 years, and take up valuable real estate which be used for a home, garden, or other usefull purposses besides a stinking, rotting, worm food corpse? Donate it to science, so the School system can get some use from it, and help better the world on your way out!
Ultraworld
Aug 25, 2013 12:08 PM CDT
It takes a pretty forward thinker to donate their body for pretty gruesome experiments.
Ivan_the_Gypsy
Aug 25, 2013 11:13 AM CDT
The eyes are the softest, most juicy part of a body. Some of these comments would make you believe there is nothing behind the eyes in the writers of the inane comments.