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The Vampire in Science

Vampirism in Science

Vampirism isn’t just connected to myth and legend. We also see acts of vampirism around us in the animal kingdom. In science, the habit of drinking blood is called Hematophagy, and since blood is full of proteins and lipids (fats, etc) it can be a very nutritious meal.

The Vampire Bat

The most famous animal connected to vampires is the vampire bat.

The vampire bat will fly around hunting for prey. Once the host is found (usually sleeping cattle or birds) they land, and if there are any hairs, they will use their teeth to shave the area and begin to feed by making an incision with their upper incisor teeth. The bat will inject an anticoagulant called draculin (no joke) and proceed to drink the blood.

Vampires bats rarely drink enough blood from any one animal to cause it to die. In some situations such as where the bats cannot locate enough "hosts" the animals may become weakened due to blood loss and succumb to sickness or other predators.

Vampire Bat photo courtesy Wikipedia

Vampire Bat photo courtesy Wikipedia

The Vampire Fish

The Paracanthopoma vampyra (vampire fish) is a small fish, about 25 mm long, that would swim through the gills of a larger fish and suck it’s blood.

Vampire Fish

Vampire Fish

Humans Feeding on Blood

The drinking of blood is not limited to animals and insects.

The feeding on blood by people is usually done in a ritualistic way. For instance, cow blood mixed with milk is a mainstay food in the African Maasai.

Black Pudding is eaten in many places around the world and the Mongols are known to drink the blood of their horses.

The Norse Berserker warriors were also reported to drink the blood of their slain enemies.

The Mosquito and Other Blood Suckers

The mosquito will find it’s hosts location by following carbon dioxide and body heat. Once it lands it will bite and inject various anticoagulants and feed.

Only the female mosquito feeds on blood, which is needed for protein and iron to develop eggs.

Other insects that feed on blood are Assassin Bugs, Black Flies, Bed Bugs, Ticks, Mites and Fleas.

Nosferatu - photo courtesy

Nosferatu - photo courtesy

Corpses With Blood in Their Mouth and Growing Hair?

Many stories have been told of a suspected vampire being disinterred with a healthy and plump complexion with blood seeping out of their mouth and newly grown hair, nails and teeth, or signs that the coffin has been disturbed from the inside. The most common explanation for this has been as a misunderstanding of decomposition.

The bodies rate of decomposition can be greatly affected by temperature, minerals in the soil, and preservation techniques. As the bodily fluids dry up, the soft tissues will retract giving the illusion of freshly grown nails, hair and teeth. The internal organs will later begin to putrefy, caused by bacteria, and the abdomen will begin to swell from the decomposition gases, which then push the liquefied organs out any open hole in the body like the mouth, nose and anus. The distended abdomen will eventually explode, damaging the inside of the coffin, giving it the appearance of being clawed at. Gases escaping out of the mouth or anus would seem like the corpse is taking a breath or “passing gas”.

Another explanation for the disturbance of the coffin is grave robbery. (interesting note, a corpse takes more time to decompose now than it did years ago because of all the preservatives consumed during our lifetime).

Count Dracula

Count Dracula

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Stories of Vampirism and Well Known Diseases and Disorders

In the past, anything not able to be explained at the time was usually attributed to God or Satan but with the advent of the scientific age, the explanations for the unknown has turned into a scientific search for the truth.

Stories of vampirism are no longer explained by undead creatures from beyond the grave but by well known diseases and disorders.


Porphyria has been an explanation brought forward by biochemist David Dolphin. Porphyria is a inherited disorder of certain enzymes in the body. Since it is treated with intravenous heme, Dolphin suggested that the vampires drinking of blood was a search for heme. This claim is dismissed by the scientific community as a misunderstanding of the disease.

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Another explanation is a contagion. This hypothesis came about because of the many stories of deaths of family and friends of the reported, deceased, vampire.


One last possible explanation is rabies. Rabies is a viral disease, commonly transmitted by the bite of an infected animal and causes inflammation of the brain. Symptoms, if not treated, include headaches, fever, pain, hypersensitivity, violent movement, depression, mania and lethargy. Soon after the infected will fall into a coma and then die within days. Due to hypersensitivity, the victim may show a susceptibility to garlic and light and develop nocturnal habits due to a disturbance of sleep patterns.


Vampires Are Not Real! Guest Editorial

"I'm submitting this to explain why I just do not believe that vampires are real.

I do not mean to offend or upset anyone by posting this.

I find it hard to believe in them when there is no proof of there existence, I know just because there's no proof that they are real doesn't mean that they don't exist.

Okay fine, that may be the theory that some if not all people have, well I find it hard to believe in something that feeds off of human blood, and is immortal (dead) .

I just can't believe in something like that, where a person died many years ago and became a vampire and is now walking amongst us.

First things first, you can't be dead and still walk around like your still living it's just not possible. And drinking human blood carries risks and drinking animal blood is dangerous because they could carry many diseases.

And if you really are a "vampire" as you say you are then why are you exposing yourself over the internet were millions of people "humans" can read about you?

You all need to stop watching so many vampire movies and open your eyes to the real world, and in the real world vampires are nothing but mythological creatures that belong in fantasy movies like Queen of the Damned, Underworld, Interview with a vampire...

It's not real..." by vzy4kay6387

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 kentuckyslone


Anonymous on May 31, 2019:

Biting is out of the question. Vampirism is all in the blood. A person has to be nearly drained of their own blood and it has to be adequately compensated by a vampire's blood.

Carl on April 19, 2013:

A speciel venom that goes into your body and change it so it can use proteins from blood to rebuild ur cells in your body (witch does you cannot die of age) And of so you need to take in blood a few times a year. almost seems legit for me

britney on July 21, 2012:

I have always believed in vampires, not everything , like garlic and sunlight, but ur idea of them is not bad thx

satrene may on June 12, 2012:

i dont believe on vampires..but as they are said its very fascinating to hear astory about those blood suckers!!

Nadine Marks on April 02, 2012:

Hey. nice info on the vamps but don't be to sure that they so not exist. There are many of us!

jeffb1 on September 08, 2011:

When human-beings die, I don't believe that hair and fingernails continue to grow. When you're dead, your corpse pretty much decays with time, and that is about all there is to it. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I still like scary movies. These movies are for entertainment only. Fiction is not science..., with the possible exception of Quantum Physics, and there is always the "measurement problem."

Abhay Raichand on June 08, 2011:

R u people nuts? Of course vampirism can b possible. But avoid getting in detail. It is against in Islam. I mean ALMIGHTY ALLAH created Hazrut Adam a.s and Huzrut bibi Huwa .a.s(adam and eve)but what is the concept of an evil lilith. Man c'mon it was just the foolishness of man made religions just to ignore the powerful and the most beloved diety of all Allah the only true god. Vampirism is just becoz of viral or genetic diseases. And for the scientists avoid seeking satanism,becoz it is just madness and dismanagement of mental psychic of psycho Anton lavay which caused it,and judaism,becoz it is exiled by Allah the most merciful.

Emma from Houston TX on March 11, 2011:

Nice article thanks for sharing.

teresa8go from Michigan, USA on February 27, 2011:

Another great job! Alternate titles - "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vampires But Were Afraid to Ask" or "Vampires 101"

As an adition to your Vampire hub line, Might I suggest that you do a hub on Chinese Vampires. From the little I know of the subject the Chinese have a different viewpoint of Vampires.

Rising Caren from New York on February 26, 2011:

I saw a documentary about the "vampires" people thought existed because of body decomposition making it seem like nails and hair grew. It's amazing what we think of when we don't understand how death works!

Sam Little from Wheelwright KY on February 26, 2011:

Very interesting stuff!!!

Kitty Fields from Summerland on February 26, 2011:

i enjoyed this hub, but i would like to hear more about what "contagion" actually is...maybe you could elaborate more on that topic? thanks so much for sharing...i love reading anything about vampires and i find the origins in the belief in vampires very intriguing.

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