1. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

    Jan 21, 2016
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    Sydney, Australia

    Skin tone in dead black bodies?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Oscar Leigh, Jun 27, 2022.

    this is an extremely weird question to word, and the sentence "what colour are black people's corpses?" is now in my search history so yay.
    But I have often wondered, we get the oft-repeated idea of the pale corpse, almost bone white. But this seems rather Eurocentric. I know that corpses aren't always pale, sometimes they are even ruddy. But does an equivalent pallor effect ever occur with black people? Does they sometimes have a paler version of their living skin tone? Same with other skin tones.
    Any morticians or forensic people around?
    Very grateful to any answers.
  2. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Comma (x5) Chameleon Contributor

    Feb 5, 2018
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    depends on how they die (water deaths look different from land death, and elements contribute to it), and when/how you are looking at the body (are you looking at a fresh corpse or a treated corpse at a funeral or a corpse at a morgue).

    What gives corpses their pallor is the absence of blood/lack of blood circulation.

    The closest example to what skin looks like on a corpse, honestly, are newborns. When newborns come from the womb, they are VERY pale until.
    When I was born, my skin was paper white. My sister is significant darker than me and when she was born, her skin was blueish grey. we tend to be born a few shades lighter than what our skin tone will eventually.
    Rather than google "what colour are black people's corpses?" you can google "Neonatal skin color" or "what color are black newborns"
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  3. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Mind the thorns Contributor

    Feb 24, 2021
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    Others will have better answers, but I do know corpse color depends on manner of death. White folks who die of carbon monoxide poisoning are cherry red, for example. This comes from high levels of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood and shows readily on pale skin. The bright red would also be present in darker skin, though dimmed by the greater amount of melanin in dark skin.
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Dec 24, 2019
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    Way, way out there
    The pale white corpse cliche was exploded in the 80's when the movie ReAnimator came out. They did some research and discovered that in reality newly-dead bodies can have a broad range of colors all over them. The colors seem to show up much more on lighter skin, in the case of the black reanimants you could see purples and greens etc, but it was much harder to see it. Could be because of the makeup effects, I don't know.

    I believe in dead bodies you get the visual equivalent of a lot of overall bruising (in some cases anyway). And as I learned when I fell off a table once and landed hard on my back (and again when I kick-started a motorcycle that kicked me back in the calf) bruises can be a full rainbow of vivid colors and keep changing from day to day. Yellow, green, blue, purple, orange, etc. Literally all the colors of the rainbow, and can be very bright. Though in places darker colors are sort of speckeled or smeared into brighter ones, making them darker and dirty looking.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  5. Joe_Hall

    Joe_Hall I drink Scotch and I write things

    Apr 20, 2021
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    I had a soldier in a unit I was once in who drowned. He was a pretty dark skinned guy but when we found his corpse about four days after he capsized his kayak his skin was a blue-gray color.
    dbesim and Oscar Leigh like this.
  6. Gravy

    Gravy Active Member

    Mar 5, 2021
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    Currently Reading::
    NOTHING! Because who can stand to read and write at the same time?!
    From what I know, darker skin tends to be more gray when pale.
    Oscar Leigh likes this.

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