What is Algor Mortis? How do we determine the Time of Death?
In scientific terms, Algor mortis (Latin algor — coldness mortis — death) is the cooling of the body postmortem, it is the result of a cessation of thermoregulation — in simple words it is the temperature of the body changing to its surroundings after death, since thermoregulation is a function controlled by the hypothalamus, after death the temperature of the body can no longer be maintained. Body heat is lost through radiation, convection, conduction, evaporation and is influenced by the environment and weather in which the deceased was found. In forensics, this is one of the preferred method of determining Postmortem Interval (PMI) commonly known as time of death. The body temperature drops normally at a rate of 1 degree centigrade every hour after death, however depending on the variables like metabolism, heat production, and body surface tissues body temperature may be maintained stable for 30 min to 1 h after death before starting to decrease. Algor mortis is largely applicable only up to 24 hours after death, the difference in temperature between the surroundings and the deceased determines how many hours prior the death has occurred.