The end comes with only a single man standing. Of course this fulfills the prophecy of Ether, but it is also most likely true only of the combatants. Not all of the people of the land were destroyed, although all of the kin-group of Coriantumr and Shiz were certainly destroyed. The Jaredite polity is now gone, but there were populations remaining in the land, perhaps of other polities that are not mentioned. Archaeologically, the area is known to have continued with a population, but certainly not one with the power and extent of the earlier civilizations on that land.
Just as Ether appears to have come close enough to the encampments of the combatants to count them, he appears to be following Coriantumr so that he may be witness to this final scene. The death of Shiz has become a point of derision for the description of Shiz¡¯s headless body rising before falling. Interesting, there is medical information that corroborates this event:
¡°Though the combatants in this story were well acquainted with wholesale carnage, Shiz's unique death struggle was so astonishing that his throes were reported in grisly detail. Perhaps Ether and Coriantumr interpreted this astounding incident as a sign of Shiz's indomitable fighting spirit or refusal to die. However, Shiz's death struggle illustrates the classic reflex posture that occurs in both humans and animals when the upper brain stem (midbrain/mesencephalon) is disconnected from the brain. The extensor muscles of the arms and legs contract, and this reflex action could cause Shiz to raise up on his hands. fn Of course, Shiz would not have remained long in this position, and he would have bled to death rapidly through the severed arteries that go to the head.
The brain stem is located inside the base of the skull and is relatively small. It connects the brain proper, or cerebrum, with the spinal cord in the neck. Coriantumr was obviously too exhausted to do a clean job. His stroke evidently strayed a little too high. He must have cut off Shiz's head through the base of the skull, at the level of the midbrain, instead of lower through the cervical spine in the curvature of the neck. It is worth noting that critics have questioned this story in the Book of Mormon. But this extraneous detail provides another solid indication that the Book of Mormon is an accurate record. Significantly, this nervous system phenomenon (decerebrate rigidity) was first reported in 1898, long after the Book of Mormon was published.¡± (M. Gary Hadfield. ¡°Neuropathology and the Scriptures.¡± BYU Studies, vol. 33 (1993), Number 2 - Spring 1993 324.)