|This article is about an older version of DF.|
A corpse is what is left of a creature once dead. The corpses of vermin are called remains.
A corpse has several levels of decay, it will begin as "(creature or name) corpse", progress to "rotten (creature or name) corpse", "(creature or name) partially decayed corpse", and then to "(creature or name) skeleton", at which stage it will stay for several years before finally becoming a stack of bones and a skull (if applicable). Alternatively, if the creature had had parts ripped or cut off before death, the corpse will be described as "mutilated corpse" and "partial skeleton" in respective descriptions, and the parts (if still on the map) will decay in a similar fashion. Remains, however, simply progress from "(vermin) remains" to "rotten (vermin) remains" before simply vanishing.
Butchering a corpse produces quantities of meat, prepared organs, bones, a skull, skin, and nails/hoofs, as well as cartilage, nervous tissue, and other types of useless byproducts. Body parts can be butchered, presumably for whatever tissues/organs were in the part. "Butchering" a skeleton produces only a skull, bones, cartilage and other non-decaying tissues.
Corpses will produce miasma in subterranean areas, but not above ground.
Note that it's possible to view the corpse's description, like that of a living creature's, through the nits menu, but it will always report that the creature's upper body is gone, regardless of its true conditions.
If a corpse of a dwarf is left untended, it will lead to some unintended, often Fun, results.