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One of the first things that happens after death is that the temperature in the body starts to drop Before the temperature in the body core drops a temperature gradient must be established from the outside to the core After this gradient has become established the body temperature will drop with a theoretically predictably rate This fact can be used to estimate time of death Even if one succeeds in predicting when the temperature of the body core was 37 degrees Celsius one has to remember that the time it takes to form the temperature gradient will vary from individual to individual and will vary from almost no time to over two hours After the onset of putrefaction about two days after death the body temperature will increase again due to the metabolic activity of the bacteria and other decomposing organismsRigor mortis is a well known phenomenon and is due to a complex chemical reaction in the body In the living body muscles can function both aerobic and anaerobic In the dead body muscle cells can only function anaerobically When muscle cells work anaerobically the end product is lactic acid In the living body lactic acid can be converted back by means of excessive oxygen uptake after an anaerobic exercise In the dead body this can not happen and the breakdown of glycogen in the muscles leads irreversebly to high levels of lactic acid in the muscles This leads to a complex reaction where actin and myosin fuses to form a gel This gel is responsible for the stiffness felt in the body This stiffness will not be over before decomposition beginsAs rigor mortis is due to a chemical reaction the reaction time is due to temperature and the initial concentrations of lactic acid High metabolic activity in the time just before death for example when running leads to higher levels of lactic acid and shorter time for the rigor mortis to develop Higher environmental
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