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Tales From the ‘Tails’ of Bloodstains

by Douglas Ankney

Protrusions that deviate from the boundaries of otherwise elliptical bloodstains—known as “tails”—may provide additional relevant crime-scene evidence, according to James Bird, scientist and co-author of a study appearing in the journal Physics of Fluids.

A group of scientists from Boston University and University of Utah demonstrated that tail length can generate information regarding “the size, impact speed, and impact angle” of the droplet that formed the stain. By measuring several stains in a bloodstain pattern, “the trajectories of the drops can be backtracked to their presumed origin.”

Previous studies focused primarily on large blood drops falling vertically on either flat or inclined surfaces where gravity may either obscure or reshape tails. But this new study “involved a series of high-speed experiments with human blood droplets with diameters of less than a millimeter impacting horizontal surfaces at various angles.”

Bird said, “[k]nowing the origin of blood stains at a crime scene can help detectives determine whether a victim was standing or sitting, or help corroborate or question a witness’s testimony.”  



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