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CASE REPORT
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 114-117

Differentiating postmortem claw marks by the Asian water monitor (kabaragoya) from antemortem sharp weapon trauma based on the injury pattern


Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Correspondence Address:
Chiranthika Madhupoorni A. Gunathilaka
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, No 25, Kynsey Road, Colombo 00800
Sri Lanka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_18_21

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The Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator) or kabaragoya is the predominant large animal scavenger of human remains in Sri Lanka; however, its significance is rarely discussed in the forensic literature. This is the case of a 54-year-old male with a history of dementia, depression, and wandering behavior whose body was found, partially submerged in a river, 2 days after he was reported missing. There were several linear wounds with regular margins over his arms and face which raised the suspicion of homicidal sharp weapon trauma. The injuries were seen in clusters and did not involve harder structures such as tendons, ligaments, or bones. There were no signs of inflammation or bleeding. They were attributed to kabaragoya claw marks, which are postmortem artifacts that mimic incised wounds. However, there were no areas of tissue loss to indicate that the animal had begun feeding on the corpse. This case discusses the problems faced by medicolegal investigators when encountering this phenomenon which is relatively underreported in the forensic literature.


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