Talk on Biochemistry Behind Myths of Vampires, Witches Rescheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 4

Colorado State University biochemistry students will talk Wednesday, Nov. 4 about genetic disorders and environmental conditions from the Victorian era through modern times that have led to the popular myths behind vampires, witches and zombies.

The lecture was rescheduled because the university suspended operations due to weather on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The event will now be 3-4 p.m. Wednesday in Room 101 of the Pathology Building, northwest corner of East Drive and Lake Street – on the Fort Collins campus. The talk is open to the public.

Chemical reactions caused by genetic disorders and external factors in the environment most likely led to the stories behind some of Halloween’s most notorious mythical figures, scientists have said.

For example, witch trials in the 15th through 19th centuries most likely stemmed from hysteria caused by exposure to chemicals produced by a fungus, Hite said.

People ingested the fungus from rye growing along the Rhine River Valley in Europe, which led to behavior blamed on witchcraft. Affected people acquired a condition called ergotism that manifested in one of two forms: gangrenous, which caused limbs to fall off, or convulsive, which led to hallucinations.