When is it not possible to use algor mortis to determine time of death?

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Algor mortis is the state in which a corpse's temperature is changing to match the ambient temperature of the environment in which it is located. It is generally not considered an accurate means to determine the time of death, because rate of temperature change is dependent on several environmental variables.
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Algor mortis is the state in which a corpse's temperature is changing to match the ambient temperature of the environment in which it is located. It is generally not considered an accurate means to determine the time of death, because rate of temperature change is dependent on several environmental variables.
 
Below are a just few ways in which algor mortis could fail as a method to determine time of death.
  • The ambient temperature of the environment has changed (if it has gone from daytime to late evening, for example)
  • The corpse is wearing particularly insulating clothes, such as a down parka
  • The corpse is on a particularly heat-conducting surface
  • The corpse had an abnormal temperature at time of death due to fever or illness
 
For algor mortis to be an accurate means of determination of time of death, so many variables must be controlled. Often, when the need to determine time of death is present, it is not possible to control variables such as ambient temperature or what the person was wearing. Despite these shortcomings, algor mortis can be useful as a very broad estimation of a person's time of death. 
 
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