Friday, October 31, 2014

The origin of zombies

Note: This is a repost from two years ago, but I thought it was so fascinating! Enjoy! Happy Halloween!

Any loyal reader knows already that I love The Walking Dead. 



I love zombies, monsters, all things gore! The gore in The Walking Dead is FA-BYU-LUS! But if we're being honest, we all know that's not why I watch it.


Oops. Did I just put that on my blog?. . . 

So, my husband LOVES NPR and especially loves "Science Friday." He listens to it while he's driving, while he is doing the dishes. . .  all the time. Last night he was listening to a review of a book by Matt Kaplan called The Science of Monsters. He had me listen to the portion about zombies, and it was fascinating! 
Here's the jist.


The zombie state of being is a very real thing. It is induced by a powder that, until recently studied, was called "coup de poudre," or "powder strike," by Haitians where the zombie state of being was often seen. The zombie state occurs when this powder enters the blood stream via open wound.

This powder is called tetrodotoxin, or TTX. This is a fatal neurotoxin that is often found on the skin of a pufferfish. When this powder is introduced into the blood stream it paralyzes the person and they appear dead. During this time the person undergoes a psychosis and their memory is completely wiped out. They then "re-awake" with no memory and no knowledge of how to live of function, talk or do basic things. The paralysis leaves them stiff and unanimated. Having no recollection of how to do anything, even speak, they are basically "the walking dead" surviving on only instinct.

The earliest recorded occurance of this dates back to 1800 BC. There are many records of it from Haiti during times of Voodoo and black magic practices which is when it began to morph into the "pop culture" zombiism we are familiar with today. It was said in Haiti that a person could do Voodoo on another person to make them their "slave" by putting them in a zombie state. And that was the beginning of the modern day zombie.
Anyway, I thought that was fascinating and wanted to share it with you all. 



After taking the kids for their first round of trick or treat, it's my husband's turn and now I am on candy duty. I feel a little like Elizabeth Taylor as Amy in the 1949 version of Little Women. There is a part when she goes to help feed that family of poor people. There are a whole slew of little children and Amy has candy for them. She passes it out and every two or three kids she keeps one for herself until all the candy is gone. "One for you, one for you and one for me!" 

Happy Halloween!!




sources: sciencefriday.com, wikipedia.com

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