Fascinating look at the decomposition of a partially-frozen sheep

Originally published at: Fascinating look at the decomposition of a partially-frozen sheep | Boing Boing

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It seems incredible to me now that there was a time when, if we wanted to see partially-decomposed animals, we actually had to leave the house [1]. Thanks, Internet!

[1] Having seen a few partially-decomposed animals in my youth, I can testify that one thing the Internet can’t reproduce – yet – is the smell [2]. That’s a good thing.

[3] As I recall it, you’d be stopped in your tracks by an eye-watering stench blowing in from somewhere. A neighbor would then nonchalantly tell you “Aye, theer’s a deid coo oan the beach,” with no further explanation asked or given. Sometimes, for variety, it was a seal or a sheep instead of a cow.


I see an add running for some sort of colourful phone game, balls and points and oh my. But no rotten sheep. Is that Insta or TikkyTok? Gets to a point I don’t even bother clicking.

Given that this must have happened during a single season (yes, marsh water is typically low oxygen and could slow decomposition, but it wouldn’t look that good if it was several seasons old, especially as internal bacteria would decompose the body regardless, make it bloat, float belly-up and likely burst, ++), I think putting this down to rotting/decomposing is… unlikely? Sure, it definitely played some role, but that skeleton has more likely than not been picked clean by scavengers more than it has been exposed through decomposition (particularly in winter!). Still fascinating, but… yeah. Decomposition alone doesn’t produce squeaky-clean skeletal structures in a matter of weeks or months.

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