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Why don’t living things rot?

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Rotting bodies are reserved to horror movies, aren't they?

They do, we just call it an infection. All living things are under continual attack from bacteria and fungi but they are mostly able to repel these invaders through a combination of the physical barrier of their skin and the cells of the immune system that attack anything that gets inside.

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If a microorganism manages to gain a foothold somewhere, cells die and the body begins to decompose. It doesn’t look quite the same as a rotting corpse because the living cells of the body are constantly battling to repair the damage. Dead things don’t resist the invaders.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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