What happens to our dead body? Either it is buried, burnt, embalmed, broken on some college student’s table or left to the elements. While some prepare for this period long before their deaths, most are not bothered. But there are some scientists who study the human body long after its death and they have come up some important facts to bust myths related to death.
It’s common knowledge that death happens when your heart stops pumping, you stop breathing, your brains ceases functions and slowly all the vital organs also give up. However, the truth is that the human body does not die or end at one go. They take hours depending on the circumstance of your death.
So how do you explain things you have heard like nails growing long after a person has died, hair still black and growing despite there being no life? It is not a pretty sight but here’s what science has to say
Hair and Nails
The truth is none of it actually grows. It appears so because your skin will shrink after loss of life and begins to pull back and that is what gives us the illusion of growth, exposing more of your hair or nails and that is why we think they are growing.
Imagine a dead body sitting bolt upright or showing movements! Naturally it would be a scary experience, unless the person has come back to life. This action can be attributed to contracting muscles and tissues which cause such jerky or reflex actions. Forensic scientists have reported post-mortem spasms up to 12 hours after a body dies. Which could also include our next point…
Embarrassing yourself even in death
Erections, peeing and pooping – Yes, as rigor mortis sets in, the body does tend to go off balance. Let’s begin with Angel lust or death erections or in medical terms priapism. Again it all comes down to your muscles: Your muscles relax and anything that you may or may not have been holding in will come out leading to defecation or lots of farting noises. Your brain is dying/dead and has no control over your organ functions so there is no one to regulate your sphincters leading to loss of bowel movement. Those noises you hear from a dead body are gases escaping and sometimes as rigor mortis is setting in it gives the appearance of body breathing. Nurses and other hospital attendants have reported hearing moans, groans, and even squeaks coming from the dead.
Historical texts bear this gruesome curiosity out with clinical chill. In 1551, one of the earliest known documented cases of coffin birth was recorded: a victim of the Spanish Inquisition, swinging at the gallows, gave birth hours after her execution. The idea of postmortem birth has been recognized as both a mythological notion and a medical possibility for centuries.
In 2013, a pregnant Eritrean migrant drowned, when a diver recovered the corpse, the baby was discovered in the mother’s leggings. Not all postmortem deliveries result in the death of the baby, however, though these are then technically not classified as postmortem fetal extrusion. For example, a 23-year-old woman in India in 2007 who killed herself while giving birth. Her body ultimately completed the birth of the infant naturally- a rare example of postmortem delivery.
Officially referred to as “postmortem fetal extrusion,” what actually happens is a fetus is pushed through the vaginal opening of a decomposing pregnant body as a result of pressure from intra-abdominal gases.