3 Answers

  1. It's all about the main component of the “smell of death” – putrescine. Putrescine, which belongs to the group of biogenic amines, is formed from arginine during putrefaction. It was first described in 1885. It turned out that even with a short contact of a person with putrescine, the latter causes him to be wary and even aggressive behavior.

    Arnaud Wiseman and his colleagues conducted four experiments trying to determine conscious and unconscious responses to putrescine. It turned out that even with a small concentration of the substance in the air, people began to experience anxiety, expressing readiness to run or to aggressive self-defense (the so-called “fight or flight”reaction).

    Scientists emphasize: for the first time it was found that the smell of a single chemical compound can be perceived as a danger signal and relatively quickly change human behavior.

    In September 2015, another team of scientists found out the exact composition of the smell of death. Experts came to the conclusion that just before the decomposition of body tissues begins, the human body smells of freshly cut grass, as well as fresh fish. Among the compounds released after death, researchers call hexanal (it is due to it that freshly cut grass has a characteristic aroma), as well as indole (characterized by a sharp aroma) and trimethylamine.

  2. I've never smelled death myself, but I remember a very vivid description of it in Gabrielle Wittkop's Necrophile:

    “Their smell is the smell of silkworms. This smell seems to come from the depths of the earth, from the realm where musky maggots work their way between the roots of plants, where mica blades cast a silvery-icy glow, from where the blood of future chrysanthemums is born, among the crumbly peat, sulfur slurry. The smell of the dead is the smell of returning to space, the smell of high alchemy. For there is nothing purer than the dead man, and he continues to purify himself until he reaches that final purity-the purity of a huge bone doll with an eternal silent laugh, with eternally spread legs – that doll that is in each of us.”

  3. Perhaps, at the moment of death, certain areas of the brain are activated that give the dying person a sense of some smell along with, for example, visual images.�
    If this happens, then this smell will be a purely psychosomatic phenomenon. This will be the smell that the person felt earlier.�
    If that's what you're talking about.

    There is a smell that I unmistakably associate with death. It's the cloying smell of cheap and damp wood that's already beginning to rot.�
    It smelled like a cheap temporary coffin containing one of my family members. I was sitting in a car 10 cm away from this coffin while the body was being transported from another city. It was a hot summer night. The same smell followed me the next day at the funeral, when the coffin was already different, their good wood, and the whole ceremony was held in the open air. And in a week, and in two. And now, at the thought or mention of death, I feel it.
    So I know exactly what the smell of my death will be.

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