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Extensive unusual lesions on a large number of immersed human victims found to be from cookiecutter sharks (Isistius spp.): an examination of the Yemenia plane crash.

Ribéreau-Gayon, A; Rando, C; Schuliar, Y; Chapenoire, S; Crema, ER; Claes, J; Seret, B; ... Morgan, RM; + view all (2017) Extensive unusual lesions on a large number of immersed human victims found to be from cookiecutter sharks (Isistius spp.): an examination of the Yemenia plane crash. International Journal of Legal Medicine , 131 (2) pp. 423-432. 10.1007/s00414-016-1449-6. Green open access

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Abstract

Accurate determination of the origin and timing of trauma is key in medicolegal investigations when the cause and manner of death are unknown. However, distinction between criminal and accidental perimortem trauma and postmortem modifications can be challenging when facing unidentified trauma. Postmortem examination of the immersed victims of the Yemenia airplane crash (Comoros, 2009) demonstrated the challenges in diagnosing extensive unusual circular lesions found on the corpses. The objective of this study was to identify the origin and timing of occurrence (peri- or postmortem) of the lesions.A retrospective multidisciplinary study using autopsy reports (n = 113) and postmortem digital photos (n = 3 579) was conducted. Of the 113 victims recovered from the crash, 62 (54.9 %) presented unusual lesions (n = 560) with a median number of 7 (IQR 3 ∼ 13) and a maximum of 27 per corpse. The majority of lesions were elliptic (58 %) and had an area smaller than 10 cm(2) (82.1 %). Some lesions (6.8 %) also showed clear tooth notches on their edges. These findings identified most of the lesions as consistent with postmortem bite marks from cookiecutter sharks (Isistius spp.). It suggests that cookiecutter sharks were important agents in the degradation of the corpses and thus introduced potential cognitive bias in the research of the cause and manner of death. A novel set of evidence-based identification criteria for cookiecutter bite marks on human bodies is developed to facilitate more accurate medicolegal diagnosis of cookiecutter bites.

Type: Article
Title: Extensive unusual lesions on a large number of immersed human victims found to be from cookiecutter sharks (Isistius spp.): an examination of the Yemenia plane crash.
Location: Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00414-016-1449-6
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-016-1449-6
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Aircraft accident, Cookiecutter sharks, Drowned bodies, Forensic decomposition, Postmortem examination, Scavenging
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1516219
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