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Question #1841 posted on 12/08/2003 4:02 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was in my art history class, and it was said that during William the Conqueror's funeral, his corpse 'exploded'. Apparently, it had been about three weeks or so and they didn't try to preserve the body.

Do dead people/animals really explode when they decompose?

-I.C. Deadpeepul

A: Dear Cole:

As bacteria start eating away at a cadaver's innards, they produce gas (mostly CO2) as a byproduct. This gas can build up inside the intestines and stomach of the body. Eventually, the pressure can become so great that the stomach ruptures, kind of like a large, heavy-duty balloon popping. I've heard from scientists that study this sort of thing that the sound is really quite, um, unique.

-- Misaneroth