It sounds ghoulish but it could just be part of decomposition:
The idea that genes would activate after an organism’s death was unheard of, so the researchers wrote it off as a mistake with their instrumentation. But repeated tests, in fish and then in mice, continued to bear out the impossible: genes activating hours, or even days, after an organism died.
The scientists’ findings were met with skepticism, until a group of researchers led by Roderic Guigó at Barcelona’s Centre for Genomic Regulation also found post-mortem gene activity, this time in humans. “We were saved when the group from the Barcelona genome institute covered the paper on humans, because they … proved the same thing,” says Noble.Kate Golembiewski, “After You Die, These Genes Come to Life” at Discover Magazine
The most likely explanation is that death is a process of shutting down, rather than an instant when everything stops. The genes to grow a spinal column, for example, resurfaced but maybe they had been suppressed because the deceased already had one. Still much to learn but that’s a good hypothesis to test.
We might learn some things about development quite unexpectedly this way.
See also: Reproductive stem cells have system to fight off jumping genes
De we really live longer because of longevity genes? Researchers cast doubt.
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