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Creatures, Myths & Legends

The science behind vampires and monsters

By T.K. Randall
November 9, 2012 · Comment icon 29 comments



Image Credit: Dracula - 1931
Where did our fascination with fictional monsters such as vampires and werewolves actually originate ?
It's a question that science journalist Matt Kaplan has set out to investigate. Kaplan maintains that our tendency to crave stories about horror and monsters is not dissimilar to the way in which lion cubs behave when they engage in play fighting - they allow us to face our worst fears without putting ourselves in any genuine danger. Different fictional and mythical monsters have sprung up around this tendency for telling terrifying tales.

Some specific denizens may have had some basis in reality, for instance the concept of vampires may have sprung from symptoms of decay in the newly deceased. Bram Stoker's classic novel 'Dracula' is most commonly associated with bringing the vampire concept in to popular culture, but how did we get from the blood curdling terror of Count Dracula to the modern day vampires of Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight' saga ? [!gad]It's a question that science journalist Matt Kaplan has set out to investigate. Kaplan maintains that our tendency to crave stories about horror and monsters is not dissimilar to the way in which lion cubs behave when they engage in play fighting - they allow us to face our worst fears without putting ourselves in any genuine danger. Different fictional and mythical monsters have sprung up around this tendency for telling terrifying tales.

Some specific denizens may have had some basis in reality, for instance the concept of vampires may have sprung from symptoms of decay in the newly deceased. Bram Stoker's classic novel 'Dracula' is most commonly associated with bringing the vampire concept in to popular culture, but how did we get from the blood curdling terror of Count Dracula to the modern day vampires of Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight' saga ?
The suave and sensitive Edward Cullen of "Twilight" may be the norm for vampires these days, but fictional monsters such as Dracula originally sprang from the fear of inexplicable diseases and the mysteries of death in the natural world.


Source: Reuters | Comments (29)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #20 Posted by Rlyeh 10 years ago
Some believe in a vampiric lady named Lilith who was punished by God to roam the Earth as a Vampire.I thought she was just a whore?
Comment icon #21 Posted by DarkwingsDescending 10 years ago
I thought she was just a whore? No, I don't think she was. I know she was jealous of Eve though and was rather demonic, but she wasn't a whore. Then again, this is supposedly found in the Torah and in the bible. Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith (Not always reliable, but a go to source.) Source 2: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1513/whats-the-story-on-lilith-adams-first-wife Apparently she eats babies and haunts men. Also, you may be thinking of Salome. She was considered a witch and whore. I'm no bible expert though. http://answers.agblogger.org/2008/03/29/salome-in-the-... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Wolfman1993 10 years ago
There are some conditions in which a person will actually drink blood. What's to stop a person from sharpening a few teeth and biting a few necks? I believe they're out there.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Overdueleaf 10 years ago
There are some conditions in which a person will actually drink blood. What's to stop a person from sharpening a few teeth and biting a few necks? I believe they're out there. these are not actual vampires from lore though... these type peoeple would be mentally disturbed individuals
Comment icon #24 Posted by Wolfman1993 10 years ago
you make a very valid point
Comment icon #25 Posted by Jeff Albertson 10 years ago
Dracula is based off of a real person Vlad the impaler (Dracul "The Devil" ) http://www.vladtheimpaler.com As for vampires (outside my area of intrest in cryptozoology) there were based off people with toberculose and some concetion with the dead. After diggin up the dead there would be finger nail marks on the coffin leds(this is the reason for imboment) the other parts being expalined in this post with the stomach. Also the hair appeared to growalong with finger nails. This lead to staking of the heart to make sure the body (the dead) could not get up in the night. (if I rember right)
Comment icon #26 Posted by himalyanmystic 10 years ago
No real evidence of vampires at all only its true of ppl in witch craft and stuff like that use a lot of blood and sacrifice.
Comment icon #27 Posted by Pegasus12 10 years ago
I don't know, Robert Pattinson creeps the heck out of me. And I've never even seen a "Twilight" movie or read the books. He's definitely not sexy I didn't give Twilight a chance until my aunt came along. Now I'm a full on Twi-hard XD Give the movies a chance (haven't gotten around to the books yet.) I think Edward is okay, but have you seen Jacob? He's super hot! :-* :-* :-*
Comment icon #28 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats 10 years ago
Dracula is based off of a real person Vlad the impaler (Dracul "The Devil" ) http://www.vladtheimpaler.com As for vampires (outside my area of intrest in cryptozoology) there were based off people with toberculose and some concetion with the dead. After diggin up the dead there would be finger nail marks on the coffin leds(this is the reason for imboment) the other parts being expalined in this post with the stomach. Also the hair appeared to growalong with finger nails. This lead to staking of the heart to make sure the body (the dead) could not get up in the night. (if I rember right) Dracul... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by Infinite Playlist 10 years ago
I think Stephenie Meyer tried to use science to explain her Twilight vampires. But, um, Ms. Meyer... You can't stuff extra chromosomes into a person's body. But yes. I believe vampires were created as a way of explaining the possible terrors of disease, the unknown, the the possibility that there might be actual monsters.


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