If organic matter were first sterilized and then prevented from contamination from without, putrefaction did not occur, and the matter remained free from microbes.
The oil separates from the fat-cells and is found lying free, while the sulphuretted hydrogen evolved as one of the products of putrefaction reacts upon the iron of the blood and throws down a precipitate of sulphide of iron, which in course of time imparts to the limb a range of colour commencing in green and terminating in black.
Parker (Elementary Biology) cites a passage from Alexander Ross, who, commenting on Sir Thomas Browne's doubt as to "whether mice may be bred by putrefaction," gives a clear statement of the common opinion on abiogenesis held until about two centuries ago.
Van Leeuwenhoek discovered bacteria, and it was soon found that however carefully organic matter might be protected by screens, or by being placed in stoppered receptacles, putrefaction set in, and was invariably accompanied by the appearance of myriads of bacteria and other low organisms. As knowledge of microscopic forms of life increased, so the apparent possibilities of abiogenesis increased, and it became a tempting hypothesis that whilst the higher forms of life arose only by generation from their kind, there was a perpetual abiogenetic fount by which the first steps in the evolution of living organisms continued to arise, under suitable conditions, from inorganic matter.
Phosphine (phosphoretted hydrogen), PH 31 a gas formed in the putrefaction of organic matter containing phosphorus, was obtained by Gengembre (Crell's Ann., 1789, i.