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Do Nails and Hair Continue to Grow After Death?

Contrary to popular belief, hair and nails do not continue to grow after death. It just appears that way because as the body dehydrates, the skin pulls back from the hair and nails, making them look longer. For this reason, funeral homes usually put a lot of moisturizing cream on their clients to preserve a more natural look.

More facts about the body after death:

  • Under the right humidity and temperature circumstances, bodies can turn into a soapy substance known as adipocere, or grave wax, rather than decompose. A famous example of this is the "Soap Lady" in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

  • Many people in the Victorian Era would take pictures of their loved ones shortly after death. They would wait until after the person died because taking a photograph was prohibitively expensive, and some people could afford only a few in a lifetime. Children were often arranged to look like they were sleeping, while adults were often posed leaning up against scenery or reclining in a chair.

  • Dr. Duncan MacDougall, an 18th century physician in the United States, claimed that the human soul has a measurable mass. Dr. MacDougall weighed six of his patients as they were on their deathbeds and then directly after they died to see how much mass the body lost as the soul left it. According to Dr. MacDougall, the human soul weighs about 21 grams, or a little less than one ounce.
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