Rosemary wrote:For my experiment, i am planning on using a dead animal to study the stages of hair decomposition after death while still in the scalp. When the animal dies, i would like to pull a hair and look at the root. I could pull a new hair every couple of hours to see how the hair root has morphed. I need a way to measure or record the hair root. I could use appearance, but that seems kind of subjective. Mass may also work, but it would be very light weight. Do you have any ideas on how to measure the hair root at its different stages?
Okay, now I see why you were specifically wanting to look at hair (or fur) in relation to its source. This sounds very interesting, but I would echo the comments already posted by my learned colleagues in that I would question if the use of a deceased animal is a) absolutely necessary for your project, and b) if your teacher and the science fair board are okay with this subject. Please check with them before you take this any further. I honestly believe that there are suitable alternatives to carrying out this project which can then be applied to the specific question you are trying to answer. (By the way, what is your hypothesis?)
What has your background research uncovered as to what happens during decomposition, and specifically with regards to soft tissue and hair? What do you *expect* to happen to the root of the hair over time (that is, what do you predict will happen / that you will observe)? And would you expect these observations to be the same in decomposing tissue and hair versus plucked hair?
In an earlier post, I had asked you to look into the different growth stages of hair. What did you find and how can you apply this knowledge to the question at hand? If, for example, a head hair is plucked from the scalp, you may expect to see an intact root with cellular material attached to it. How does this differ (visually / microscopically / physically) from a head hair that naturally falls out? Why? What process has the hair / root undergone in order for this natural process to occur?
You had also previously mentioned that a researcher had done some work in virtually the same area that you were wanting to do your project. What was the initial purpose of the research and what were the observations and conclusions from the paper? If you can let us know more about the work that has already been done, we might be able to help you refine the experimental phase of your project.
You had also asked about how to measure the observations you make. Again, how did the researcher cover this in his/her work? I would suppose that as long as you make multiple examinations within each given time frame (to allow for variability), visual observations of what is occurring would be satisfactory. On the other hand, would you expect the hair and cellular material to dehydrate over time, depending upon the environmental conditions in which the decomposition occurred? If so, you may wish to consider the change in weight over time - but this may be extremely difficult to measure, depending upon what resources you have available.
Rosemary wrote:on a side note. i was wondering if i could somehow get Geoff Bruton's email. I cant find it online. thanks
As others have already pointed out, I'm afraid that is against the rules of this forum. I would be more than happy to continue our discussion using this same thread - and that way, any others in the future who may wish to continue your research will have a head start! (Sorry for the awful pun!)
I will also discuss your project with some colleagues of mine who work in the Trace Evidence Section here at the lab. They work with hair - including hair from living and dead humans and animals - on a relatively frequent basis. If they have anything to add, I will certainly post it here.
Good luck with everything, and please let us know your thoughts.