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Scientists about the way the bees, the wasps and the squirrel lived in a hanged man

The first in the world case of nesting of the honey bee, the wasp and the squirrel inside partially skeletonized and mummified human body found high at the tree, was described by a scientific team from Wrocław.

Accurate analysis of the literature in medical science and forensic entomology proved uniqueness of the discovery. The scientists described it in July in the prestigious „Forensic Science International”.

“Uniqueness of our discovery consists in the fact that nobody before us had a chance to describe such a case of nesting of these species of animals inside a human body found at a tree” – says to PAP member of the team dealing with such phenomena, dr inż. Marcin Kadej from the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the Wrocław University.

“For us, biologists, this discovery is very interesting since it brings a new perspective and provides new dose of information on behaviors, ecology and biology of these animals” – said the biologist.

The scientist does not deny that the discovery was accidental. In 2016 at one of spruces at the Lower Silesia, 25m above the ground there was noticed a body of a man who may have committed a suicide. When it was delivered to the Institute of Forensics of the Medical University in Wrocław, it turned out that inside there are nests of the wasp, the honey bee and the squirrel.

It also turned out that the body of the man had been staying in the tree for 13 years and although it has been a long time, the body is in quite good condition and partially mummified. In the opinion of a part of the scientific team, a few factors contributed to this situation.

Firstly, acc. to the dr Kadej, the body had no contact with the soil where it would be exposed naturally to contact with predators and scavengers that is a fox or a badger, resulting in quicker decomposition.

“Also weather conditions high, at the tree crown, are very different from the conditions directly on the ground. They had a great impact on the way the body has been decomposing all this time. Additionally, the vertical position resulted in a specific decay processes which took place directly in the body” – said the scientist.

An important factor, which contributed to such a good condition of the body, was also the fact that the deceased wore two pairs of trousers and they were a barrier protecting the body from the weather conditions and from the fragmentation process.

The biologist confirms that this discovery brings a new perspective on behavior, ecology and biology of the bee, the wasp or the squirrel. “We know a lot about their nesting, the way they grow and their preferences, however, this discovery shows that the human body, provided that it meets expectations of the organisms, can be a home for them” – added dr Kadej.

The scientist assessed that this discovery might not be extraordinary for the forensic entomology since these species do not belong to a canon having a direct impact on the decomposition process of e.g. human body. Here, two-winged insects or beetles are in the lead. However, in his opinion, this observance is very interesting since it is a sort of precedent in a widely recognized forensic entomology.

Most of all it shows that living organisms, which exist in natural eco-systems, take every chance in order to settle spaces available for them at a particular time, in a maximal and optimal way.

Residues of the human being found at the tree, in the opinion of the scientist, to the some extent were similar to a natural structure called a hollow which is a very important micro-habitat in a natural environment for varied organisms – starting from birds to numerous species of invertebrates.

“I think that this case shows perfectly the importance of such structures in the space, the most frequently – old trees; biologists call them veteran ones, senile or monumental. The most frequently they offer such structures like tree hollows, rotting wood micro habitats and bark pieces providing great conditions for varied organisms and their life cycles.  The species in question fit this thesis perfectly” – summed up dr inż. Marcin Kadej from the Wrocław University.

PAP – Science in Poland, Kamil Szubański


Published by: Aleksandra Draus

23 Oct 2018

last modification: 23 Oct 2018