A highlight from From the Vault: Fingernails, Part 2


Hey welcome to stuff to blow your mind. My name is robert lamb. And i'm joe mccormick and it saturday time for a vault episode today. It's part two of our series on fingernails. This episode originally aired on september third. Twenty twenty I think it'll be a scream. Dig right in both blow your mind. Production of iheartradio. Hey what's stuff to blow your mind. My name is robert land. And i'm joe mccormick and we're back with part two of our talk about nails fingernails toenails in the last episode. We talked about how fast nails grow. What influences how fast they grow the some strange decades long self experimentation projects on the measurement of nails. And this time we're going to get out of some of that scientific minutia and jump into the weirder world of nails and the role that nails and hair play in a lot of Very very surprising and interesting magical and religious beliefs. Yeah and it makes sense that we would since the the nails that look down at Every day we find ourselves absent mindedly feeling than have that in fact Enhance our ability to engage physically with the world they are strange to behold like we said before they're both alive and dead at the same time at least as you know in in the way that we we think of them you know they. They're obviously a part of our body an yet they feel slightly external. You know there are these things that are light claws but not claws so it makes sense that we would have some kind of complicated magical ideas at times about what they are and what they do. Yeah and i think some of the magical and religious ideas are going to connect with something that we talked about it in the last episode Which was this the strange thing. I was observing a about. How are hard body parts. Hard external parts like teeth and nails though you would expect them to be sort of like the the most I don't know what you call a like. The most brutally disposable parts of our bodies because they're hard they're like what you put out front in defence or attack but in fact we've got these vulnerability trauma obsessions with these parts of our bodies. Like if you just start worrying about what could go wrong with your body how you could be injured how it could be damaged a lot of the natural places that people go to go to worry about. These things are teeth and nails absolutely. And that's that's why towards the end of the at the last episode. We started talking a little bit about Glenn dan's fingernails about how at least in some music videos or posters that kinda half remember from my teenage years. I recall that he had sharpened fingernails. And i would wonder myself what what purpose to those have and indeed would sharpened fingernails age. You in in fights or something. Because i also remember look stephen king novels and short stories that i also was reading at the time. We'd occasionally have a character show up that it's sharpen their teeth down the defiled points Or or perhaps even has some sort of like sharpened fingernails. i guess and Brings to wonder like would there be any kind of actual combat were defensive advantage to that sort of thing and we. We mostly decided that there would not really be yes. You can scratch your way out of out of a scrape here and there but there's also a possibility you'll damage your your fingernails. If you're trying to use like sharpened fingernails to attack somebody more than likely if you encounter somebody with really gnarly looking fingernails that have been sharpened to a point or or indeed. You know just look in seemingly intentionally creepy. They probably you're trying to look at least a little bit like nas ferrari right. And so this vampire association with long nails in fact we were just talking about this with seth the other day and Seth was sharing with us. The idea that you know i. It's possible that the association between long fingernails vampires could come from the idea that Often in the old days you might open up if you've exhumed body from the graveyard and you notice that their nails look a little bit long and so you think wait a minute. Are they still alive in some way or they getting up and roaming around and still growing body tissues. Yeah i feel like this has come up on the show in the past before and it certainly it it goes beyond the world of vampires. We talked about it a bit in the episode where we talked about the coppa. The japanese water demon Where you have varying monstrous conceptions in the human immagination bitter based upon an analysis of a physical death to see what happens to the body after it dies and the seeming changes that take place in the body in in the case of the vampire. Yeah it's like the bloated form the impression at least that the hair is still growing the impression that the nails are still growing. So if you ask the question is that true. The answer is no it is not true. That hair and fingernails continued to grow after death At least not to any significant degree now if the nails and the hair don't keep growing after death that that does leave the question of why so many people thought that that was the case. Why why would you look at a corpse and think that it's nails appear long and the most common explanation for this tends to be based on the Dehydration of the corpse that as the body begins to decompose it loses a lot of moisture which causes the retraction of the skin tissues around the fingernails around the nail plate which makes the nail plates look longer. Because there's there's just less skin around them now. this helps inform more than just our idea. Vampires for starters it also factored into the the buried alive panics that have existed at different times of believe we.

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