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A form of forensic entomology was practiced at least as early as the thirteenth century. Sung tells of a murder in a Chinese village in which the victim was repeatedly slashed.
In 1235 a Chinese "death investigator" named Sung Ts'u wrote a book entitled The Washing Away of Wrongs, which was translated into English by B. The local magistrate thought the wounds might have been inflicted by a sickle.
Repeated questioning of witnesses and other avenues of investigation proved fruitless.
Finally, the magistrate ordered all the village men to assemble, each with his own sickle.
There were some exceptions, particularly the work of J. Possibly the most significant of these papers was La faune des cadavres: Application l'entomologie a la medicine legale, which was published in 1894.
The central thrust of Megnin's work was that the postmortem interval can be determined by analyzing the various species of arthropodsinvertebrates with a segmented body and paired, jointed legs, such as the insects, the mites, and the spidersthat are present on a decomposing body, without regard to their age.
If my telephone log at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is any indication, quite a few people still think that maggots are worms with no connection to flies; one man even told me that maggots normally live "inside people" and only come out after we die.
Very quickly, "worms" appear, crawling out of the various orifices.
Until quite recently, most death investigators regarded these insects as merely a sign of decay, to be washed away or otherwise disposed of as quickly as possible, rather than potentially significant evidence.
Insects are major players in nature's recycling effort, and in nature a corpse is simply organic matter to be recycled.
Left to its own devices, nature quickly populates a corpse with a diverse community of organisms, all dedicated to reducing the body to its basic components.
Not until several centuries later, in 1668, was the link between fly eggs and maggots discovered in the West.