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The Natural World: The Witness Was a Fly


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Five years after a murder had been committed, Cambridge University forensic scientist Dr Zakaria Erzinclioglu dated the crime with the help of a single fly. In tonight's film he reveals some extraordinary collaborations between human and animal detectives.
The life cycle of the blowfly, which lives and feeds on a corpse, follows such a precise pattern that it can pinpoint the time of death, and time-lapse photography reveals them at their grim work. A finger bone and wedding ring have been found in a mouse's burrow, and birds collect hair from a corpse dumped in the woods to build their nests - hair which can be used to identify the victim. As coyotes attack and scatter human remains, the marks left by their teeth add to the story of what happened.
In Britain and America, scientists demonstrate the ways in which animals, insects - and plants, like the seeds on a blanket that trapped a rapist - help in their work.
The animal detectives: Doctor Zac's casebook


Presenter: Dr Zakaria Erzinclioglu
Producer: Nigel Marven
Executive Producer: John Sparks

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The Natural World: The Witness Was a Fly

BBC Two England, 17 April 1994 18.10

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