Botanist's Book Spotlights How Pollens Play A Role In Solving Crimes

Crime and detective movies (at least, the ones grounded in reality) have us thinking that for an acting detective to solve the case, one must be able to look for telltale signs that can point out where the crook went, or at least, what really went down in the scene of the crime. A footprint here, a fingerprint there, or even a strand of hair filled with DNA, left behind unknowingly while in the moment of escape.

But did you know that even if the perpetrator is too careful and smart to leave behind any type of “print” that can be traced back to them, there are still ways that can trip them up? Such as, well, pollen and spores.

Leave no… pollen prints behind?

That’s right. According to the book “The Nature of Life and Death” by botanist Patricia Wiltshire, small things such as pollens and spores are incredibly important in the field of forensic ecology since these biological materials can be analyzed by experts to help detectives solve their crimes. Helping pioneer the field for the last 20 or so years, she highlights this particular subject in her aforementioned book.

Before moving on to helping solve crimes, Wiltshire started her career by using the power of pollen and spores to analyze and study archaeological sites. According to her, this is because the components of the pollens’ polymers can last a very long time, therefore being more persistent than some forms of evidence. In fact, these polymers are able to last for thousands of years in certain conditions.

Furthermore, these small biological bits are also distinctive, showing experts where a criminal has been or where they went off to. This means that when combined and analyzed properly, they can be as telling as a fingerprint. Spores and pollens are also very susceptible to static electricity, meaning that they always end up clinging onto a person whenever in direct or indirect contact. This alone, can give a lot of clues.

Worthy of any true-crime novel or TV show, this type of clue hunting can be very integral in the field of forensics.

pollen-543490_640 A new review finds that antibiotic use in the first two years of life may increase our risk of becoming allergic to triggers like pollen, seen above. Pixabay, Public Domain