Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Lazarus Sign

by Edward, This post originally appeared at Radioactive Lab Rats.

This is about the Lazarus Sign, or reflex, and not to be confused the the Lazarus Effect, which a fellow FSL already made a post about, which can be seen here.
So who is this guy Lazarus? I mean he’s not Planck, but he does have a couple of things named after him. Lazarus is a character in the Bible, who is revived by Jesus. The Lazarus effect is where nearly extinct species manage to make a comeback, and begin the thrive again. Similarly, the Lazarus sign, or reflex, is where a dead person appears to be alive. What happens is a dead person (brain dead) will raise their arms and fold them like a mummy. This sort of reflex doesn’t need to be processed by the brain; it goes right through the spinal column. However, for the Lazarus reflex to happen, the body needs to be fairly healthy (cadavers would be a prime choice for observing this reflex).
Look at the arms
There is a fairly intereting idea that I stumbled upon which says the reason that Egyptian mummies arms are placed like so is that while the bodies are being processes and embalmed, the organs and body are kept fairly healthy, which results in the Lazarus reflex. We have no way of verifying this unless we stumble upon ancient heiroglyphics, but an interesting idea all the same. Imagine how spooked the embalmers would’ve been. I wonder if it would happen to their dead cats.

[Editor's Note: This post was edited for some content that may not be suitable to young children.]
About this contributor: Edward is a Grade 11 student and goes to Churchill Secondary. He is fortunate enough to be in the Future Science Leaders program at science world, and he likes science. He volunteers at Science World too. He thinks it'd be cool to be a science communicator at some point in his future.

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