A ‘surreal’ story has emerged this week concerning the exhumation of Salvador Dalí’s body, twenty-eight years after his death. The decision to unearth Dalí’s corpse was made after a Spanish tarot card reader, Pilar Abel, made the claim that the Surrealist artist was her biological father. The paternity has not yet been established, however another curious discovery has been made – Dalí’s intact moustache!
The famous facial hair characteristic for its upward sweeping waxed points has remained in a remarkable condition. Dalí’s embalmer referred to the discovery as ‘a miracle’, but science says otherwise. As all biology students will know, hair is composed of the protein Keratin which resists decomposition by enzymes due to the tight disulphide bonds. Keratin is also insoluble in water, and therefore resists rainwater damage.
Even when not preserved, hair can last for many thousands of years. The oldest example of hair found to date is 9,000-years-old, however analysis is being performed on a potential 200,000-year-old sample. Ancient Egyptian hair is frequently discovered intact as the mummification process involves a fat-based gel that acts as an excellent preservative, but even unpreserved Egyptian hair can be often discovered due to the dry nature of dessert burial grounds.
The Dalí exhumation and paternity suit has fascinated scientists and art historians alike, and has angered the authorities involved. Ian Gibson, a biographer of Dalí, argues that the artist having a child was ‘absolutely impossible’ as Dalí always boasted: “I’m impotent, you’ve got to be impotent to be a great painter”.’ The local council and the foundation carrying Dalí’s name were both against the exhumation, claiming that they were not given enough notice. The Dalí Foundation also assert that Abel’s claims are false.
Natural scientists hoping to study at Oxbridge should investigate the stages of decomposition in organic matter and the chemical reactions involved. Art historians should consider the impact of the recent news stories about Dalí on the value of the artist’s work. Historians should study burial environments and the impact on the preservation of remains.
- BMAT mini mock paper & answers With over 90% of applicants now preparing for the admissions... Read more >
- US University Applications: How Decisions Are Made Article contributed by: Dr Jon Tabbert, US university admissions educational... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- Philosophy Reading List If you are interested in Philosophy, there are several options... Read more >
- The Most Competitive Subjects At Oxbridge (And How To Choose Wisely) Oxford and Cambridge are two of the best universities in the... Read more >
- Economics & Logic Puzzle: ticket touts We asked top Economics blogger Resham Kotecha to challenge us... Read more >
- Information on choosing a course at Oxford or Cambridge “Perhaps it is because Oxbridge encourages more ‘traditional’ A Level... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test mini mock paper & answers If you are applying to do Law at Cambridge, chances... Read more >
- Cambridge Language Test overview If you’re applying for Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge,... Read more >
- History Reading Lists The main challenge in the step up from school to... Read more >
- Download a Law Personal Statement 2 “I have read The Origins of the Second World War... Read more >
- MAT overview If you’re applying for Maths or Computer Science at Oxford you will need... Read more >
- TSA Cambridge Example Questions and Answers If you have completed the TSA Cambridge course report and are... Read more >
- Personal Statement Solution: Brainstorm Sheet Writing your personal statement may just be the grimmest part... Read more >
- April’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Taking a Gap Year There are a number of advantages to taking a gap... Read more >
- English Language and Literature Reading List If you're applying for English, have a look at our... Read more >
- Pooling: Fast Facts You may have heard people talk about “pooling”, or maybe... Read more >
- Outside reading: the key to a good application When it comes to writing your personal statement and preparing... Read more >
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test overview If you’re applying to read Law at Cambridge you will probably need... Read more >
- PPE: answer like a pro If you’re applying for Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) or... Read more >
- Oxford college snapshots With 35 colleges and Permanent Private Halls, choosing how to... Read more >
- June’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >