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The normal brain (L) shows much more serotonin|
activity than the vampiric brain (R).
Vampires have much lower levels of this neurotransmitter. Serotonin acts as an inhibitor against violent, aggressive and impulsive behavior, which also explains why criminals such as murderers and rapists have so little of it in their brains.
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.
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|
Sight: In vampires, the iris in each eye becomes hyperdilated, giving them what appear to be black eyes. In addition, the retina now reflects more light into the rod cells, causing the eyes to shimmer in the dark. While all this gives vampires excellent night vision, it renders them effectively blind in daylight. They also experience extreme vasodilation of the sclera, making the whites of their eyes appear red.
Both senses are extremely acute: thanks to a combination of hypertrophic cerebral neurons and additional receptor cells, hearing range is tripled while smell is tenfold.
As you can see, the upper fangs are more straight|
compared to the curved lower fangs.
During the latter half of the vampiric coma, the upper and lower eyeteeth experience rapid growth as additional enamel is deposited on the crown of each tooth, creating sharp fangs. Many vampires will file these fangs to make them sharper for easier feeding—though they'll have to do this about once a week as vampire fangs are capable of regeneration, even when pulled out.
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.
X-ray of a vampire's|
About 90 percent of vampiric muscles are of the fast-twitch variety (compared to 50 percent for the average human). This brand of musculature enables short bursts of maximal force, ideal when hunting prey. However, unlike typical fast-twitch muscles, vampiric muscles are highly resistant to fatigue, thanks to a drastic increase in myoglobin and mitochondria. Ligaments and tendons thicken in response to the workload imposed upon them by the muscles.
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.
Human arterial blood (top) compared|
with that of a vampire
Vampire blood is called ichor (pr. ik-er), and appears more brown or black due to an increase in iron and bile levels, allowing it to carry more oxygen and clot faster while slowing the growth of harmful microbes.
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.
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.
Seen through thermal vision,|
a vampire attacks its prey.
This temperature anomaly proved to be a great help for modern vampire hunters, as it made vampires easily distinguishable from humans when viewed through infrared imagery.
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.
Although their DNA has the ability to resist aging (as well as cancer), 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 vulture-like 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.