In my story, a character is murdered in 1920. Nothing special about the environment. Buried in the midwest out in the woods. Would there be anything left of the body to find in 2018? If so, what would likely be left?

  • This is more like a biology question than a writing question. If you go to the biology stack, a better way to phrase this might be "how long does it take for the bones of a human body to completely decompose?" Or "would at least the bones of a human corpse still be intact after 100 years?" – Todd Wilcox Jun 24 '18 at 15:26
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about the process of writing or publishing. This question would do better in biology SE. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jun 24 '18 at 15:34
  • It will depend on the conditions of the burial site, but it would not be at all surprising to find bones from 100 years ago (I mean, sure it would be surprising, but not from a realism point of view.). Bones would be more resistant to decomposition than other parts of the body, usually the last thing to go. They would be weathered, and I don't know the details on that. They might be chewed up or transported elsewhere again depending on conditions. Should be google-able. – DPT Jun 24 '18 at 16:39
  • @ToddWilcox Unsurprisingly, the biology stack exchange didn't like this question either, and sent the OP on to other stack exchange sites. I think in between questions like this are reasonable and often over moderated. – De Novo Jun 25 '18 at 17:07
  • @DanHall I could see a big problem with this question on any stack is that as worded, the answer is going to be, "it depends". A question that might work is, "what are the oldest unfossilized bones discovered to date?" - perhaps on the history stack. – Todd Wilcox Jun 25 '18 at 17:11

Under good preservation conditions bones can last literally millions of years but that's in deep, dry, caves or desert environments; in the woods with plenty of water and life to break it down you'd be lucky to have a recognisable skeleton after a couple of decades.

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