TNB Night Owl – Scientist Discover Lightning Strikes Carve Signature Inside the Bones

Lightning over Oradea Romania. Photo by Mircea Madau.

At least 4,500 people are killed by lightning strikes each year. Although data on death by natural electrocution is hard to find, the evidence of this kind of death is not easy to obtain.

This is what we know happens to the body with a lightning strike. It causes burns, damage, and trauma to the skin and organs. However, a knew study suggests that when all the tissue has decomposed, and you are left with just the skeleton, you will find deep carvings to the bone.

Anthropologist Nicholas Bacci from Wits University in South Africa says “Our work is the first research that identifies unique markers of lightning damage deep within the human skeleton and allows us to recognize lightning when only dry bone survives.”

Bacci and fellow researchers identified in previous experiments unique markings. In Pig bones subjected to high impulse currents Bacci noted “extensive micro-fracturing and fragmentation of the bone matrix.”

In that study, a wild giraffe that was killed by a lightning strike presented the same kind of micro-fracturing was seen in it’s bones. Although it still remained unclear whether human skeletons would present the same gruesome signature. That’s where the human cadavers come in. With the help from cadavers donated to science, we have the answer. Scientists observed similar patterns of micro-fracturing in human bones subjected to the same currents.

“The lightning damage take the form of cracks which radiate out from the center of bone cells, or which jump irregularly between clusters of cells,” says forensic anthropologist Patrick Randolph-Quinney from Northumbria University in the UK. “The pattern of trauma is identical even through the micro-structure of human bone is different from the animal bone.”

The team explains in their paper, “While the patterns are the same, their intensity depends on the source, and the wild giraffe killed by actual lightning showed ‘a markedly higher occurrence of micro-fracturing and more irregular micro-fractures overall’ that the human bones.

Bone density, which decreases with age makes you more susceptible to greater amounts of lightning induced fracturing. For forensic pathologists this discovery could be a smoking gun, indicating the probable cause of death in mysterious fatalities where other evidence may be destroyed.

For us common folk, the best thing to do is to stay inside during lightning storms. Definitely do not fly a kite with a key attached, like some people did…

QOTN: Are you a thrill seeker during storms, or do you take shelter like us smart people??

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