The Creationist Significance of Flesh Flies

The Creationist Significance of Flesh Flies

Author: John Woodmorappe
Subject: Biology
Date: 01/01/1996

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About John Woodmorappe
When a person or animal dies, his or her body is quickly subject to decomposition. Vertebrate scavengers such as vultures attack the body. Insects begin colonizing it. Finally, whatever remains is consumed by the bacteria and fungi.

There are various insects that may visit decomposing corpses on an opportunistic basis, but the Calliphorid flies specialize in this type of scavenging. Also called flesh flies, or bluebottles, these large flies can home in on a corpse many miles away. They lay a large number of eggs in the corpse, which then hatch into larvae, popularly known as maggots. The maggot infestation in a corpse is sometimes so great that the corpse is skeletonized in a matter of days. The maggots eat prodigious amounts of the flesh and grow rapidly. In the soil surrounding the corpse, they turn to quiescent pupae. The life cycle is completed when the pupae turn into adult flies.

The duration of the flesh-fly life cycle is governed by temperature. Also, flesh flies can locate and colonize bodies that have been buried in shallow graves. This has practical applications in forensics. By knowing the temperature in the area of the body, forensic entomologists can estimate fairly accurately how long a body has been there, which may either rule out or help implicate a murder suspect.

Over longer periods of time, the presence or absence of flesh flies can help determine the season of year when a death took place. During World War II, tens of thousands of Polish officers, who had been prisoners of war, were murdered and buried at Katyn (near Smolensk, Russia). After the Germans invaded Russia, they discovered the graves and blamed the Russians for the atrocity. The Russians in turn laid the blame on the Germans. By observing the minimal insect colonization of the bodies, specialists concluded that the murders had to have taken place during winter, or shortly thereafter. This, along with other constraining evidence, laid the blame squarely on the Russians (which, by the way, they recently admitted, after nearly 50 years of lies).

Since flesh flies are such specialists in the colonization of cadavers, one may wonder what they ate before the Fall. Since there had been no death before the Fall at least no death of vertebrates, they must have had an alternative food source. For at least some flies, this could have been bran, as described by Davis (1966, p. 3):

In India, I found by chance that one could breed the house- fly with great ease, merely by half-filling a big clay chatty or water jar with bran, wetting the bran which in the great heat rapidly decomposed, and the decomposing bran attracted numerous house flies which soon left large numbers of offspring . . .


Davis, G. 1966. The succulent maggot. Aviculture Magazine, 72:3-5.

Topics: Polska Historia, Zbrodnia Katynska, NKVD crimes, Polski Kreacjonalism, dysteleological arguments, forensic entomology, teleology, Soviet gulags, Stalin’s crimes

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