“My dear young lady, crime, like death, is not confined to the old and withered alone. The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen victims.”
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
We gathered around our Mancunian ‘lecturer’ for Forensic Anthropology.
“Skeletal analysis is all about 4 things: Sex, age, stature and cause of death,” she counted down with her fingers.
“Let’s begin with the golden rule – ‘Sex before maths’! Come on detectives, you heard what I said. Use your noggin, do some loggin’. ”
Some of us turned to each other and sniggered, but quickly scrambled for our notes.
“You think I’m joking do you? Determining the sex, age, height and cause of death of the victim is all about maths … and thigh bones … and pelvic bones. Basically maths and bones. Some of you clever ones are thinking, why don’t you just measure the victim to get the height? To that smart-arse I say, what if you only find a piece of him?”
“So much to learn!”
So, where did you all go on your staff social you ask me?
We went to the After Hours at the Natural History Museum Crime Scene Investigation Event. We were Team Alpha – entomologists and anthropologists using the study of skeletons and maggots to solve a murder.
What a night!
We raced maggots, identified fly species, watched maggots digest a whole fox head in a 5 minute time-lapse sequence. We worked out our corpse’s approximate time of death by determining the ADH (accumulated degree hour) of the maggot lava – that’s maggot age in layman terms.
We examined the pelvic, femur, sternum, rib and skull of our victim. It’s amazing how much you can tell about a person from the bumps, ridges and cavities of their skeleton.
We read through case files and listened to interviews. We discussed blood spatter patterns with Group Beta and fingerprints with Group Gamma.
We enjoyed a timely drink in the bar.
All around the museum the statues, stuffed dodos and dinosaur bones cast shadows and eerie poses.
Our lecturers were of course actors, but at each stage we met real experts in their fields, who work on real crime scenes in London.
What fascinating work.
It’s so important to do socials with your colleagues that have nothing at all to do with work, just fun! Though it turns out that one of our colleagues finds maggots rather abhorrent – eek!
I’m sure the fact that her maggot won the maggot race with a time of 37seconds, made up for it all …
P.s. My maggot kept turning around and only met the finishing line in 1minute 45seconds. I’m ashamed.
P.p.s. I do have some maggot experience. When Hubby and I were dating he asked me to help him clean the maggots out of the wheelie bin. He remembers that date fondly and seem to think it had some bearing on my saying ‘Yes!’ – Hubby is delusional.
P.p.p.s. I always wanted to be a detective or in the police. I think I would have been good!
P.p.p.p.s. There is actually a species of fly called Vomitoria – it’s name, is no coincidence.