Grotesque progression of a decaying deer fawn captured in timelapse

Social media users are mesmerized by ‘terrifying and beautiful’ timelapse video of dead deer decomposing over five days

  • A cinematographer shared a gruesome timelapse of a decaying deer fawn 
  • It captured maggots feasting on the flesh and tissue until only bones were left
  • READ MORE: Scientists discover deer likes eating humans for dinner

Social media users are calling a timelapse of the progressive stages of a decaying deer fawn over five days ‘both terrifying and beautiful.’

The grisly affair began just hours after the fawn was killed by a passing vehicle when its body stiffened due to cells breaking down and the halt of producing ATP, which is the energy source required for movement.

Maggots and flies are then seen crawling on the carcass, feasting on the dead animal’s flesh and tissue.  

Bacteria and fungi will decompose the remaining tissue, but this process will take at least 60 days and leave behind bones that bleach in the sun.

The timelapse was created by cinematographer Owen Reiser, known for his stunning nature videos for BBC and National Geographic. 

A cinematographer shared a gruesome timelapse showing the progressive stages of a decaying deer fawn over five days. The dead animal was found on a Missouri road and was likely hit by a vehicle

‘I found the roadkill deer on a fairly busy road near my house in the St. Louis, Missouri area,’ Reiser told

‘I shoot lots of timelapse professionally for natural history programs (NatGeo, PBS, BBC, etc) and have always thought filming the natural decomposition process would be neat.’

His brother Oliver helped him pull the deer off the road and into the woods, where he set up camera equipment and began shooting.

‘The timelapse only took five days, which was quite a shock – I was expecting the whole process to take at least two weeks,’ said Reiser.

The hot and humid July heat must have sped things along. It was, to this day, the worst-smelling thing I have ever encountered. 

‘The Blowfly maggots crawled up my tripods and actually ruined one of my cameras completely by covering it in nasty fly liquid that seeped into the shutter mechanism.’

Instagram account Nature is Metal shared the science behind the decaying process.

Owen Reiser pulled the deer off the road and into the woods, where he set up camera equipment and began shooting the progression 

The first stage of progression is known as the ‘fresh stage’ when the heart stops, blood oxygen decreases, and cells start to break down.

As the cells break down, the red blood turns bluish-purple, changing the body’s color.

And ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, stops producing. This is why most road kill carcasses are stiff following death.

The video then captured the bloating stage, when the fawn’s gut bacteria devoured it from the inside out.

As this carries on for up to 72 hours, gases like methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide are produced that cause the body to swell and expand. 

And the gases are what create the unpleasant odor. 

During this stage, the organs and tissues begin to liquefy.

Maggots can be seen crawling over every inch of the lifeless body, devouring the once shiny brown fur coat and leaving just bones and some tissue behind 

This stage led to the fawn’s body cavity rupturing, exposing its internal organs and releasing fluid to the surrounding area that attracted maggots and other bloodthirsty insects like flies.

Flies use the body as a breading ground to lay larvae, as the decaying flesh is an excellent source of food for their offspring the moment they hatch.

The timelapse shows what looks like black insects consuming the animal in moments.

Maggots feast on the deer’s tissue and remaining flesh, sucking it all down to the bone. 

 ‘After about five days, the body continues to decay. The maggots persist in feeding and growing, and eventually, they leave the carcass to pupate and mature into adult flies,’ Nature is Metal shared.

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