Pollen and ‘Bones’

By Anna Sandiford 17/02/2011

I’m watching Bones.  It’s a new series (in New Zealand anyway) and it’s the episode where they use pollen vacuumed out of the nasal cavitiy of a decomposed corpse to determine the exact date of death.  Can I just say that, as a forensic pollen expert, it’s utter nonsense.

The concept is sound – it’s a concept that I have used as the basis of some of my research – using pollen recovered from nasal cavities of deceased individuals in order to determine the geographical location where they were located at the time of death.  But the possibility of being able to determine that an individual died two weeks ago (“on the 13th”) based on the pollen in their nasal cavity compared with air pollen records is just not realistic, especially when the nasal cavity is so degraded that it is open to the elements and, therefore, to air currents and dust deposition and what is termed “pollen rain” – pollen falling out of the air column.  And the air pollen record probably wasn’t taken at the exact same location as where the bodies were located (in a cave…).

But I still watch it because it’s entertaining!  Don’t believe everything you see on the TV.  Nuff said.

0 Responses to “Pollen and ‘Bones’”

  • CSI was the same (I say “was” because I stopped watching it when William Andersen left the show…) – totally unrealistic depictions of what could be done – & also how long it would take! – but great fun anyway. (It was nice to see a show with a science-y theme playing in prime time.)