NPR logo Texas Body Farm Produces Rotten Knowledge

Texas Body Farm Produces Rotten Knowledge

The Texas Body Farm isn't the name of a horror movie, it just sounds like one, sort of like the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

It's actually a scientific research facility at Texas State University, San Marcos, where researchers seek to understand the exact way human corpses decompose when left out in the environment. In other words, human bodies are left to rot for the sake of science.

NPR's John Burnett reports on the Texas facility, officially called the Forensic Anthropology Center, on All Things Considered later today. Here's an excerpt of his report where interviews Michelle Hamilton, the center's director:

BURNETT: So we're standing at the edge of what looks like four by 12-foot trench and at the bottom of it there are some human remains and they're sort of rust colored, about the color of the soil.

So how long have these remains been in this pit?

HAMILTON: These remains have been here since February. This individual was brought out completely fleshed. We wanted to look at what the Texas sun and aridity, and also the period of rain, would do to a skeleton here in Texas... As of now... The bodies mummify faster. They skeletonize faster. They decompose faster.

From the Internet, you can learn some other interesting facts about the Texas body farm.

For instance, it was actually supposed to be sited somewhere other than its current location. But the original planned site was too close to the San Marcos Airport and officials there as well as pilots worried that the body farm would attract buzzards which might collide with airplanes.

Also, the Texas facility is the third such research center in the U.S. The other two are in Tennessee and North Carolina.