Why do hair and fingernails grow after death? Surely dead means dead. How can our bodies continue to produce more cells?
• This is something that we noticed as fresh-faced first-year medical students when confronted with the cadavers we were going to dissect over the next two years. All had slightly long fingernails, and all of the men had neatly cropped stubble. We assumed that these had grown while the cadaver was being prepared. However, an anatomy demonstrator assured us that nails and hair do not grow after death and that this phenomenon was actually the result of the surrounding tissue drying out and shrinking away from the nail folds and hair shafts, giving the impression of growth.