Forensic entomology case studies from Mexico

Leonardo Flores, Humberto Molina, Manuel Nava y  Fray Pérez


This chapter deals with two case studies related to forensic entomological investigations in Mexico: Mexico City (D.F.) and the State of Hidalgo. They demonstrate how the analysis of insects assisted in the resolution of criminal cases from Mexico City’s Attorney General Office. These case studies show that the duration of the different stages of decomposition in buried corpses depends on different biotic and abiotic features, such as soil compaction, depth of the burial site and inherent characteristics of the body, and other organisms. For forensic cases, these factors must be taken into consideration, as well as human intervention, whether caused by criminal or funerary reasons. During the collection of organisms, forensic investigators must consider not only the insects present on the body, but the evidence left by the first colonisers. When human remains are found, some of the insects leave an unmistakable trace of their presence, such as larvae exuvias, empty pupas and peritrophic membrane.

© 2017 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Wolff’s Law

Bone Broke

Ever heard the phrase “use it or lose it”? That pithy phrase encapsulates Wolff’s law, an anatomical rule that describes how bone grows and changes over time. The law was developed by German surgeon Julius Wolff, whose name you will now always remember due to the clever visual pun embedded subtly in the portrait below.

Visual puns mean that you will not forget his nameIn essence, Wolff’s Law states that bone is added where there is a demand for it and removed where there is not. As White summarizes in his Human Osteology glossary, “bone is laid down where it is needed and resorbed where not needed” (2000: 53). Roberts and Manchester go into slightly more detail:

“Of particular relevance generally to occupationally induced changes in the skeleton was the law proposed in AD 1892 by a German anatomist Julius Wolff, known as ‘Wolff’s law of transformation’, which stated that bone will adapt to functional pressure or force by increasing or decreasing its…

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