One of the most popular halloween characters are the vampires. Recently on popular media we’ve gone crazy for the blood sucking fantastical creatures. In this blog I wanted to look at the biology behind them and maybe look at whether they could be real.
The most famous vampire of them all has to be dracula. The story of dracula was actually built from the legend of vlad the impaler. Coming from the House of Drăculești he was a leader in Romania and Bulgaria. He used impaling upon his enemies which was why he ended up with his name. There were rumours that he then drank the blood of his enemies and hense the story of Dracula the vampire began.
The general ruling across mythology is that vampires are humans that died and were brought back to life by another vampire and require blood to drink. Excluding the other theories of whether they sparkle in the sunlight or burst into flames. In real life there are some creatures that drink blood.
Vampire bats are a good one to start off with. Desmodus rotundus or the common vampire bat alongside two other species of vampire bat can be found in central and south america. They use infra-red radiation to locate blood hotspots on their prey. They have short muzzels and sharp teeth so they can latch on and drink the blood. Anticoagulants are released so the wound does not heal too quickly and then the blood is digested to obtain the nutrients. An interesting fact about vampire bats is that they often urinate within two minutes of feeding. They live as a colony and if one bat was unable to find food that evening it may ask for a donation from another bat.
So what would happen if a human drank blood? Well in actual fact if you did as the stories say and drained and drank all of the blood contained within a human, about an average of 5 litres by the way, you would die alongside that person. You would die from a number of different causes mainly from lead poisoning or haemochromatosis. This causes major damage to the liver and nervous systems. This could also happen by drinking blood often over time.
To conclude, could vampires be real? Well vampire characteristics are apparent in plenty of different animals, the bats but also leeches. As for a human vampire my answer is no. The human anatomy could not cope with blood in the system over a prolonged period of time. With all this being said there is no reason why you can’t dress up in a cape and pop on some fake fangs. You could even chuck on some glitter when you walk into the sun.
Hope you enjoyed this blog. Happy Halloween!