The Odor of Death: An Overview of Current Knowledge on Characterization and Applications

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After death, the human body undergoes various processes that result in the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The interest in these VOCs has increased substantially in recent years because they are key attractants for necrophagous insects and vertebrate scavengers. Identifying cadaveric VOCs has required the effective development of analytical tools for collecting, separating, identifying, and quantifying the suite of VOCs released throughout decomposition. Analytical developments for studying cadaveric VOCs in vertebrates, ecological interactions of cadaveric VOCs with the abiotic and biotic environment, and the necessity for convergence of these two areas for the progression of future knowledge are discussed herein.

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