Rigor Mortis – Not a Lucky Stiff

Chemistry, Medicine
When a person or animal dies, it doesn’t take long before the body grows cold and stiff. Cold makes obvious sense, but why stiff? Why does rigor mortis [Latin for stiffness of death] set in? Chemistry of Rigor Mortis Rigor mortis results from chemical changes within the muscles - it’s body chemistry. The chemical enabling muscle flexing is ATP (adenosine triphosphate). When breathing ceases, breathing ceases. Lack of oxygen severely diminishes ATP production. If the individual dies, the body begins cooling right away, but muscle stiffening does not set in immediately. [caption id="attachment_14541" align="alignright" width="280"] Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)[/caption] Before R. M. – a Second ATP Production Process There is a secondary process for producing ATP. It involves anaerobic glycolysis, the breakdown of glucose into lactic acid. Simply written, it is…
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