The Chemistry of Rigor Mortis


  1. Rigor Mortis is a medical condition that occurs after death. A corpse’s muscles lock and it loses its ability to move freely. I chose this project because of how i knew almost nothing about it. Rigor Mortis applies to life because of the way that it affects all animals that die and how it affects processing food.Composition of ...
    1. Myosin
      1. 2000 amino acids
      2. Forms heads and tails
    2. Actin
      1. Protein binds to Myosin
    3. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
      1. Ca²+ and ATP cause binding and release

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    1. ATP
      1. Oxygen is needed to be created
      2. Energy to cause the myosin to enter release its bond with actin and enter its high energy state
      3. The lack of its creation and binding to myosin creates a solid contraction of muscles
    2. Myosin
      1. Protein that causes the movement of muscles
      2. Binds to ATP to extend and bond to actin and pull to contract the muscle
      3. The inability to release the actin causes a locking of muscles

Chemistry's Role

    1. The ATP is made from food and Oxygen and occurs naturally in the body
      1. As the body can no longer supply oxygen to the muscles of the body the ATP cannot bind to the myosin in the body and leaves the myosin forcefully attached to the actin
    2. Myosin is a protein and occurs along all muscle fibers and is naturally occurring

Background Research

Rigor Mortis is used in forensics as a general indicator for time of death. It also affects morticians in the preparation of a body.


      1. Effects of Rigor Mortis
      2. Time it takes place
      1. Causes
      2. Uses in life
      1. Chemical changes in the body
      1. General info
      1. How ATP and myosin affect motion
      1. How oxygen binding changes motion
      2. ATP is required to release myosin from actin

About the Author

Kyler Gappa is a Junior at Billings Senior High School. He enjoys learning about how chemistry plays a role in daily life. He lettered in swimming, and participates in STEM Society at his school.