The moment a person dies, their body begins to break down as cells wither and bacteria invade. But how long does it take for a body to fully decompose?
Although the process of decomposition starts within minutes of death, there are a number of variables, including the ambient temperature, soil acidity and coffin materials, which can affect how long it takes a body to skeletonize. However, on average, a body buried within a typical coffin usually starts to break down within a year, but takes up to a decade to fully decompose, leaving only the skeleton, Daniel Wescott, director of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University, told Live Science.
A body buried without a coffin, which doesn’t have protection from insects and other elements, typically skeletonizes within five years, according to Nicholas Passalacqua, an associate professor at the Forensic Osteology Research Station at Western Carolina University.
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