WIKIMEDIA, ROGER HIGGINSWhen Salvador Dalí’s body was exhumed from his tomb in Figueres, Spain, on Thursday (July 20), officials noted that his iconic mustache remained remarkably unscathed.
Lluís Peñuelas, the secretary general of the Gala-Dalí Foundation, says the artist’s mustache retained “its classic 10-past-10 position,” like the hands of a clock stretched out, The New York Times reports. Dalí’s embalmer called it “a miracle.”
But to forensic scientists who deal with corpses on a regular basis, the tenacity of dead people’s hair is anything but miraculous.
“For human remains that are placed in airtight conditions such as coffins or crypts, it is entirely possible for hair to preserve over very long periods of time,” says anthropologist Tiffany Saul in an email to The Scientist. Saul recently earned her doctorate from the University of Tennessee studying isotope values in human hair following decomposition. Even after