That's the "Lazarus sign," an involuntary reflex that some people (for instance, those being removed from respirators) do in their final moments. Or, to be more precise, after their final moments. This unintentionally cruel reflex got its name from Jesus's undead bud Lazarus, and it can be hell on your loved ones, because that's exactly what it looks like: You're coming back from the dead. The singularly disturbing phenomenon is a result of the very same bodily function that keeps you from having to think, "Gee, this is hot!" while your skin fries on a wood stove -- it causes you to withdraw your hand (or foot, face, wiener, whatever) before the pain actually fully registers in your brain. It's a simple signal shot straight into your spine, which contains nerves that connect to every part of your body, allowing the spinal reflex arc to make you move out of danger before your brain can make a judgment call (which is a good thing, because all you would be able to think is "WWAAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!?!!!").
Because these impulses bypass the brain entirely, a person who is truly brain dead can still activate this reflex and instantly tighten the sphincters of everyone in the room.
The Lazarus sign isn't a quick reflex; it takes its time. And when you're standing over the body of a loved one who has been declared dead only to suddenly show signs of life, seconds can feel like hours, and an involuntary response can feel very voluntary. There's a certain deliberation to the motion that reinforces that perception. The patient lifts her arms, crosses them over her chest or just pulls them in against it, holds the position for a couple of seconds, then puts her arms back down. And we have no idea why, other than "nature likes fucking with us."
Postmortem Fetal Extrusion (AKA Coffin Birth)
Yep, there's a reason we saved this one for last: We didn't want you to run away screaming just yet. Postmortem fetal extrusion is, simply put, when a corpse gives birth to a fetus. It's a rare phenomenon, but that's little consolation to the fact that it even freaking exists.
via Bones Don't Lie
Appleby et al.
Here's the kitten birthday party again, if you need it.
To be mercifully clear, corpses do not give birth to live infants. This happens because, as a pregnant body decomposes, the fetus is ejected from its mother's corpse by gas buildup (NSFW link). So, by the time a cadaver has filled with enough gas to set the grisly process in motion, the fetus couldn't possibly be alive. More good news: This is mostly a thing of the past, which is why the medical community doesn't really know a whole lot about it. We're gonna call that in itself a good thing, too.
Today, through the modern miracle/potential disaster of embalming with chemical preservatives, coffin birth is virtually unheard of. Gas buildup in dead bodies is basically the result of mass bacteria-farts as the normally harmless colonies that live inside you literally start eating you. The process of preparing a modern cadaver for burial drains the body of the nasty little buggers, eliminating the possibility of gas-propelled horror-births. So if you think The Walking Dead gets too grisly, just be thankful the reanimated ladies don't go around shooting tiny zombies at their victims, you know?
Marina intends to donate her body to science and loves the book Stiff, by Mary Roach. Also, a big hug and shout-out to Seth Friedrich -- thanks for reading, man! It meant a lot to me to hear about you!
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "Actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say, "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, Cracked staff members Dan O'Brien and Michael Swaim, and Psychology Professor Martie G. Haselton of UCLA as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effec,t and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
For more inner looks at your expired meatbag, check out 5 Horrifying Things Real Dead Bodies Do (Too Weird For TV) and The 5 Most Bizarre Things People Have Done With Dead Bodies.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Stories From History That Should Be Horror Movies, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.