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Once upon a time, humans had zero awareness of what death meant, and while we still do not know everything, we certainly have come a long way. We now know more than we have ever known about what happens when we die, and are learning more information by the minute.

Science has come a long way throughout the years, seeking to find answers to our most pressing questions. Of course, because death is something we all know is coming but none of us can report as to what it’s like- a major focus has been placed on understanding what happens when our life on this plane comes to an end. Below, I have listed 9 things that we now understand about death.

1. We are aware that we are dying.

Many people envision death as something we are completely unaware of. Like one moment you are here, the next you are not. However, science has shown us it’s a bit different than that. According to research carried out by the NYU Langone Medical Center, our consciousness sticks around. This means that when you die-you are likely aware of it.

2. Death isn’t the end (for part of you.)

We cease to exist when we die, except for part of us. According to a study published in the Royal Society’s Open Biology, our genes live on when we die.

3. Our lives do flash before our eyes.

In a recent study, researchers observed the brain of a man during what was supposed to be a study of the brain activity of a patient who had epilepsy. Unfortunately, he suffered a heart attack during the midst of all of it- which allowed them to see his brainwaves as he passed away. What they observed was that his brainwaves worked in the same pattern they do when we are recalling memories.

4. Zombie brains exist.

Research from Yale observed what happened when pig brains were connected to an artificial perfusion system that mimicked blood flow, oxygen, etc. Upon doing this, they realized that the revitalized brains kept some of their cells alive for 36 hours postmortem.

5. Your energy does live on.

The law of thermodynamics asserts that energy can never be destroyed. It can be transformed, but it cannot be destroyed. That means, that when we die, a part of us does live on.

6. The first people to bury the dead.

The first culture to bury the dead is thought to be the Homo Naledi. After exhuming a cave called the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa, they found chambers that had fossils of the extinct hominin, which could not have gotten there by accident.

7. Whether or not animals mourn their dead.

Researchers who observe animals have reported that most animals do respond to the death of a loved one. Dolphins guard their dead loved ones, while chimpanzees continue to groom their deceased loved ones. While none have the same practices as humans, many have very distinct rituals surrounding death.

8. The reason why we die.

Humans live extremely long lives, in comparison to other mammals, mainly because of our need to raise our offspring for longer times and because of our need to help our offspring raise theirs. However, even despite that, our age is typically capped around 100-some-odd years, because our bodies begin to weaken and die.

9. Do fingernails and hair keep growing?

For quite a long time, there has been the belief created by pop culture that our nails and hair continue to grow. Despite the rumors, this is untrue.