Rigor mortis mortis death rigor stiffness
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Rigor Mortis Mortis= death Rigor=stiffness. By Natalie Rochette. What is it?. One of the recognizable signs of death (mortis=death) chemical change in the muscles after death which cause the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move.

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Rigor Mortis Mortis= death Rigor=stiffness

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Rigor MortisMortis= deathRigor=stiffness

By Natalie Rochette


What is it?

  • One of the recognizable signs of death (mortis=death)

  • chemical change in the muscles after death which cause the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move.

  • Occurs due to the changes in the physiology of muscles when aerobic respiration ceases. (aerobic=with oxygen)


Causes

  • After a body has died, the chemical reaction producing these energy molecules is unable to proceed because of a lack of oxygen.


  • The cells no longer have the energy to pump calcium out of the cell and so the calcium concentration rises, forcing the muscles to remain in a contracted state. This state of muscle stiffening is known as rigor mortis and it remains until the muscle proteins start to decompose.


How long does it last?

  • It begins after around 3 hours, reaching maximum stiffness after 12 hours, and gradually ends approximately 72 hours after death.

  • It ends not because the muscles relax, but because autolysis takes over.

  • Autolysis- the self-digestion of the body's cells.

  • Decomposition then begins.


Stages

  • Delay phase -- while there is plenty of ATP in the muscle, the muscle will remain in the relaxed state and no cross bridges between the thick and thin myofilaments will occur.Onset phase -- As stores of ATP and Creatine Phosphate are used up, rigor bonds between the thick and thin myofilaments are formed. As more bonds are formed, the muscle loses extensibility.Completion -- When all of the CP is gone, the muscle has no way of regenerating ATP. Full rigor mortis will then set in.


Meat Industry (fun fact)

  • it partially determines the tenderness of meat.

  • If the meat is chilled then cold shortening occurs which shrinks the meat and due to this water is lost and that makes the meat hard.


  • Meat that is butchered and immediately frozen or eaten is usually tougher than meat that is butchered, and then "aged" in a cooler for a period of time due to the concept of rigor mortis.

  • To prevent cold shortening, a process known as electric stimulation is used and the carcass is stimulated with alternating current, causing it to contract and relax.  


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