[This talk contains graphic images]
My parents always wanted me to be a doctor.
But a doctor that studies how vultures eat dead things
is probably not the type of doctor my parents had in mind.
I study vulture scavenging behavior and how vultures affect crime scenes.
I’m here to talk to you about how we take vultures for granted
in forensic science.
Before we do that, I want to tell you a story.
So we’re going to take a trip, all 1,000 of us.
It’s May 2014 and we’re standing in a park in Nashville, Tennessee,
because we’ve been at a horse race.
As we wait for the porta potty,
we see two ladies in their Sunday best:
heels, pearls and lovely, floppy derby hats.
At any moment, we expect them to start talking
about their grandma’s fine china.
But they don’t.
Instead, we hear them say,
Something must be dead."
We look up and to the left and see vultures circling round and round.
It occurred to me at this very moment
that if these ladies at the derby
are aware of vulture’s connection to death,
then why aren’t we talking more about these birds at crime scenes?
People know that vultures are connected to death.
But they don’t really understand how.