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OneWriter
08-30-2010, 08:04 PM
I started reading the black echo last night and the dead body has contracted pupils, which surprised me; I always thought pupils were dilated in the dead? Isn't that one of the signs of brain death?

Cyia
08-30-2010, 09:25 PM
Thinking back to a long ago autopsy watched in class...

Yes. Pupils dilate at death because the muscles relax. There's nothing to make them reactive to light.

I'm no expert, but there are conditions that cause muscles to lock up, even after death. Perhaps the person's C.O.D. caused a spasm in the muscles of the eye that made them contract. Or, it could be a typo on the writer/editor's part. They meant dilated and put down contracted. (I've seen typos like that with coagulant/anti-coagulant, and it seriously changes the dynamic of what happened in the body.)

Rowan
08-31-2010, 02:22 AM
I started reading the black echo last night and the dead body has contracted pupils, which surprised me; I always thought pupils were dilated in the dead? Isn't that one of the signs of brain death?

I had to research this for one of my WIPs too... :) This is interesting (page 9): http://www.parkview.net/mainmenu/teachers/science/speterson/BioDeath09%20WP.pdf

The best answer: http://www1.apsu.edu/oconnort/3220/3220lect03.htm

The eyes dilate 7 hours after death (dilation is enlargement of the black pupil area). Drugs will also create unusual eye dilations, as will certain poisons, although breath odor is the more likely place to look for poison. After 12 hours, the whole eye gets cloudy and fish-like. If the person is disemboweled or has thrown up, look at the stomach contents. Anything eaten in the last 2 hours is undigested; food spends 6 hours in the small intestine and 12 hours in the large intestine. If your victim has been underwater, the average dead person sinks for about 8-10 days (depending on body weight), then they become "floaters" on about the 11th day (although a light person might float after only 7 days).

And, according to my book "Forensics: A Guide for Writers": "...corneas become cloudy and opaque. This may occur in a few hours if eyes are open at death, or may take up to 24 hours if closed..."

We had cadavers in my college human anatomy course (lab) but they were well beyond this stage! Also, I'm also no expert and it's been a while since I graduated but I don't think the pupil is a muscle. It's the iris (colored part) around the pupil that's a muscle--it conrols the amount of light (that enters the eye) by contracting/expanding, etc.

Read more: Causes of Dilated Pupils | eHow.com (http://www.ehow.com/about_5042633_causes-dilated-pupils.html#ixzz0y8B35BOz) http://www.ehow.com/about_5042633_causes-dilated-pupils.html#ixzz0y8B35BOz
;)

Hope that helps...