ZWN Science Editor: Dr. Nancy Chan
Ten Myths & Misunderstandings:
I guess you could call it the ultimate case of art imitating life. Here
we are at the birth of a new century, a time where you may have thought
that science would finally dictate reason. Immovable logic eradicate
fantasy, and monsters be banished to history.
have predicted that our fantastical creatures of the night, our demons,
our hellions, would become this centuries own scourge?
Tinsletown turned on it's head. Typically, when a threat arrives, Hollywood
rushes forward to exploit it, drains it of it's last dignity and then
discards it on the heap of forgotten causes and interests. And there
in the company of AIDS, Vietnam, and the cold war, it expires it's last
the Necro- Mortosis virus, a parasite that has left whole countries
decimated, our concept of the living dead had already been well defined,
packaged and marketed with a special 'collectors edition' DVD.
is why I, ZWN's Science Editor, am writing this rather rambling introduction
today. You see, it is this irony, that the virus came after the concept
that has crippled many a logical and rational approach to dealing with
the Mortosis virus.
So I am
now going to bust a few of the treasured myths and falsehoods we have
acquired over the years.
It is politically correct to refer to them as the 'undead' not 'Zombies' We have had many complaints from families and loved ones of
those lost to the disease. They have asked us to not refer to them using
the 'Z' word. We have agreed out of respect, to comply. Yes, some social
action groups are lobbying congress to make the 'Z' word illegal. But
for now at least this is a personal choice.
The undead have extra ordinary strength. - No. Absolutely untrue.
The longer they have been dead, the acuter the atrophy in their muscles,
and in many case, a mild form of rigor mortis further disables their
mobility. Remember, decay has set in. Bacteria has begun to break down
the flesh and bone.
The undead can learn to use tools and weapons - again, no.
'Land of the dead' was an innovative movie in that respect (see photo
above) but cognitive reason? Not to our knowledge. Coordination is a
huge challenge in itself. They often will simply fall over with the
task. Most undead seem to have lost the ability to use precision grip
completely. They cannot even open a door let alone use a wrench.
He who dies will rise - Not true. Only those infected with
the virus will rise. Anyone expiring from circumstances unrelated to
a mortosis sufferer will simply die. The virus is transmitted via fluid
exchange. This can be through bites, dirty needles, sexual contact or
'Necro-Mortosis' is a parasite not a virus - That's a hard
one. And one for another column. Many people feel that viruses and parasitism
are mutually exclusive. It has been argued extensively that viruses
in general are living organisms. Most virologists contend they are non-living,
pointing out that they do not meet all the criteria of the generally
accepted definition of life.
The undead can rip you limb from limb - Ridiculous. Hollywood
at it's most sensational. Consider the amount of strength needed to
dismember a human being. In medieval times those Englishmen unfortunate
enough to be condemned as traitors of the crown were 'quartered'. Tied
by each limb between four opposing horses. The horses rode at speed
in each direction taking the traitors limbs to the four corners of England.
My point is, it took a strong horse to rip a limb. Not a decaying corpse.
They can dislocate an arm of course. This has been documented on many
an occasion. But pulling heads off and ripping limbs? again - no.
Well, if they are not super strong, and cannot tear you limb from limb,
what is there to fear? - A person with that attitude would
last barely long enough to write that very sentence in an outbreak.
They may be dead, and uncoordinated. But they are highly infected, single
of purpose, relentless, bereft of compassion, and feel neither pain,
fear nor exhaustion.
The undead do not feed on other animals - It's an odd phenomenon,
but some do and some don't. Scientists have yet to come to an agreement
on why that is.
The undead can run - Fortunately no. Again, this is Hollywood.
Many can barely muster the rudimentary motor skills required to walk.
The undead eat brains - Actually yes they do. But they also
eat any remnant of warm flesh. They do not seek to drink blood. Nor
eat bone. However, these are often ingested as part of the course of
devouring warm flesh.
is an excerpt from 'How the virus
The brain is still alive.
The virus in essence, 'tricks' the brain into killing it's own body.
But not letting the brain die. The virus feeds nutrients and stimulation
to the surrounded brains myelin coating. Thus suspending atrophy of
the body, and 're-animating' the host.
The host then needs
to gain additional nutrients to continue the feeding of the virus. And
so it impulsively searches for food. The source of nutrition required
by the virus, aphion A and betax B, can only be found in warm blood
and meat. Hence the cycle begins: The hosts needs to kill to serve the
virus to keep the host alive.
official medical report released by the Center for Disease Control states
that the life cycle of a typical reanimate is up to 90 days. Then
generally atrophy, rigor mortis and decay become too debilitating even
for a re animator. They simply loose the means to move. They still retain
basic motor skills and a pavlovian response to stimulation, but the body
as a vehicle for the brain, gives out. Once the body has stopped functioning,
the brain will deteriorate rapidly. It will 're die' within a matter of
Unlike popular movie depictions, a severed appendage of an undead will
not function independently of the brain. The brain is the motor organ.
It serves as the sole stimuli for the body and is always the last organ
Since the necro-mortosis virus was first identified back in 2006 it has become increasingly apparent , that the 'life span' of the walking deceased changes with its environment.
Read the commissioned report here