Sorry if this sounds stupid and/or messed up.

So I'm writing this goofy splatter story in which my protagonists are fighting zombies. I'm trying to make the fighting as over-the-top and ridiculous as possible. So at one point, one of the heroes reaches down the throat of a zombie, rips out its spine and uses it to impale another one. Basically, this [NSFW-ish, it's an animation though].

So, is this possible? Is a human spine sufficiently solid and pointy at the end that you could use it to stab/impale someone? If not, would it become somewhat realistic if the protagonist instead stabs the zombie in the eye and/or we assume that the zombie is decayed to some degree which makes it's body more susceptible to damage?

  • $\begingroup$ Over-the-top but realistic? You've already violated that by ripping an intact spine out. Or, is that part ok to be unrealistic? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Dec 2 '15 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ Well .. realistic as in possible at all. But that is why I asked in the first place $\endgroup$ – MoritzLost Dec 3 '15 at 1:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Flame throwers are "over the top". Just saying..... $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Dec 3 '15 at 3:04
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The legendary Samson killed a thousand men with an ass's jawbone. Judges 15:15 Maybe your character could do the same. Tear a zombie's lower jaw from it's head then repeatedly stab other zombies with it. Then, just for fun, the other characters can start calling him Samson. $\endgroup$ – frеdsbend Dec 3 '15 at 9:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Impaling is not the same as stabbing $\endgroup$ – Dave Halsall Dec 3 '15 at 15:59

Well, first there's the whole "reach down his throat and pull out his spine" bit. If the hero can wrap his hand around cervical vertebrae, it's pretty clear he can simply punch through the neck and snap the spine of any zombie, so it's hard to see what he'd get out of using a spine. Frankly, I'd suggest he go for a femur and use it as a club. Thigh bones are pretty durable.

Pulling out a spine is one of those great images that doesn't seem terribly realistic (you think?). The problem is that if you can pull hard enough to disarticulate the 24 ribs attached to the thoracic vertebrae, it's hard to see how the vertebrae themselves would stay attached to each other. Nerves aren't noted for their strength. As for the idea of using the coccyx as a point, you'd need to disarticulate the sacrum from the pelvis, and that joint is very strong. Again, I can't see how you could manage it without ripping the spinal column apart.

The flexibility of the spine is not very great, but I suggest that the compressive strength of an unsupported spine is not very great either, and I'd worry about the spine buckling on impact.

So, you're pretty much stuck with magic, I think.

  • $\begingroup$ Hm, bummer ... that would've been so cool :3 The femur is a good idea, though that might not fight in as a heat of the moment kind of thing ... well I know what I can work with now, thanks! $\endgroup$ – MoritzLost Dec 3 '15 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Never though about it, but now that you mention it the connections between the spine and upper and lower body must be pretty durable to allow stuff like weight lifting. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Dec 3 '15 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ I just signed up just so I could upvote this answer. $\endgroup$ – Exal Dec 4 '15 at 8:01

Wow, gory!

I think you'd find it challenging to do so. The main issue is that the spine, itself, is flexible. The instant you rip it away from its musculature, it would be limp and useless as a stabbing weapon. You would need to somehow detatch it from the zombie with all of its muscles intact (perhaps you get lucky with how a zombie degenerates?), and then you'd have to deal with the fact that muscles wont stiffen if they don't have stimulus. However, given that it is a zombie, perhaps the spine can still act on its own a bit, using whatever magical locomotion animated the zombies in the first place.

The spine is pointy, though. The tailbone (coccyx) is pointy enough that if the magically animated zombie muscles spasmed just right, it would look like a spear tip.

In all, though, you're going to rely on magic to make it happen. In reality, it's impossible. Fortunately for you, you're working in a world where something quasi-magical reanimated a bunch of corpses, so you may be in luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I do have a magic user in that story ... but it's not the one who's supposed to get all the gory action. Damn °v° $\endgroup$ – MoritzLost Dec 3 '15 at 1:10

The spine is not a single bone, even if you could rip it out of your first victim you'd end up with a floppy piece of sinew and tendons with some bits and pieces of bone in the mix.
Even were that pointy enough to break skin, you could never impart enough force on that pointy bit to actually do so and drive it through far enough to cause any serious harm. You'd have more luck cutting down a tree with a herring.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like there's a cool metaphorical lesson to be learned here °v° $\endgroup$ – MoritzLost Dec 3 '15 at 15:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.