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Untreated, a person who comes out of a vampiric coma will have undergone a number of major physiological changes affecting the various systems of the body. The information included below is only an overview; for a more detailed account, read Robert Lomax's extended pages here.
A normal brain (left) shows serotonin activity.|
A vampire brain (right) shows none.
Dopamine/Endorphins: These neurotransmitters induce feelings of euphoria, and are released in a vampire's brain when it feeds. Neural pathways activated in feeding vampires are much like those found in drug users.
Circadian Rhythms: Chemical changes in the brain that help us "rise and shine" with the morning light are reversed in vampires.
|A normal eye compared with a vampire's.|
Smell/Hearing: Both senses are extremely acute: thanks to a combination of increased neural sensitivity and additional receptor cells, hearing range is tripled while smell is tenfold.
As you can see, the upper fangs are quite straight|
compared to the curved lower fangs.
Skin: A newly-transformed vampire has a sickly, pale-yellow skin tone that fades to a ghastly bluish color over the next few days as its circulation slows. Over a matter of years, the skin becomes more and more translucent as its fat and water stores shrink away, revealing a fine network of veins underneath.
Nails: Both fingernails and toenails thicken and grow at a more than doubled rate. To prevent tension on their nail beds, vampires will generally keep their nails within a centimeter in length, and also quite jagged or pointed to help them grab victims and injure opponents.
Hair: Hair growth slows down substantially in order to feed the accelerated nails. Not only that, once a follicle reaches its terminal length and falls out, each regrowth will become smaller and lighter until it's gone for good. Within ten years of transformation, a vampire's entire epidermis will be completely bald, with not even a hint of peach fuzz.
Muscles/Connective Tissue: About 90% of vampire muscles are of the fast-twitch variety (compared to 50% for the average human). This brand of musculature enables short bursts of maximal force, ideal when hunting prey. However, unlike typical fast-twitch muscles, vampire muscles are highly resistant to fatigue, thanks to a drastic increase in mitochondria. Ligaments and tendons thicken in response to the workload imposed upon them by the muscles.
Skeletal System: Osteoblast production causes a vampire's entire skeleton to harden and thicken, both during the coma and after each feeding. As a vampire loses its fat and water stores, its spine will curve into a hunchback, a condition known as kyphosis.
A drop of human arterial blood compared|
with that of a vampire.
Heart: Vampire blood is pumped via the contraction of skeletal muscle rather than the heart, which eventually atrophies from disuse. At rest, these contractions are mostly involuntary and take place in the limbs, emanating from the furthest extremities inward, like a wave. BPM for each contraction tends to be much lower than the average human heartbeat.
Adrenaline: This "emergency hormone," produced by the adrenal glands, is released in consistently large amounts in vampire blood during "fight-or-flight" situations. This quickly raises a vampire's sluggish metabolism by increasing blood flow, dilating air passages and accelerating the production of clotting factors. Along with changes in muscle, bone and connective tissue, this ability to release adrenaline only adds to a vampire's extraordinary power.
A 125-year-old vampire|
photographed in Spain; 1901.
Note the curved spine, lack of hair
and emaciated frame.
Contrary to the opinions of many theologians, vampiric longevity is not the result of some pact with the Devil, but rather an ability to ward off the DNA damage that occurs during cell division in normal humans. Specifically, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes (known as telomeres) become chewed up over time in humans, but not vampires.
Though their DNA may have the ability to resist aging, mutations that take place during the initial coma cause a vampire's appearance to change dramatically within the span of a decade. It will lose all of its hair as its fat and water stores shrink away, causing its skin to become thinner and more transparent. This gives it a distinctly withered and dried appearance, with smaller muscles and a pronounced curvature of the spine.
Despite their rather feeble appearance, older vampires are still extremely powerful and agile. Many a vampire hunter has made the mistake of underestimating them.