National Geographic : 2012 Jul
PHOTOS: UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LIBRARY ELECTRONIC OPEN STACKS LEFT ; PHOTOLIBRARY It looks like your average air bubble, but this glim- mering globule (above) is held underwater by a silk web to sustain the life of the spider Argyroneta aquatica. New research from Berlin's Humboldt University shows the Eurasian species can live in resting mode for at least a day using oxygen that passes from the water into the bubble--- similar to the way a gill works. Air connects with openings on the spider's body that take up vital oxygen. When the "diving bell" shrinks, the spider surfaces and replenishes it with fresh air. Babies even hatch underwater, inside the bell. So why live the life aquatic at all? The better to dine on small fish and other animals in slow-moving waters. ---Luna Shyr Co n Coi ures In ancient Egypt styled tresses were complex expressions of identity. Male and female, young and old, noble and peasant chose among curls, waves, twists, braids, extensions, wigs, razor cuts, and dye jobs according to their position in society, religious canons, and personal preference. These indicators of style and status were equally important in the afterlife, and the hair of the dead was arranged with just as much care. A recent study of 18 mummies at the University of Manchester revealed that most had hair coated with a fatty substance---perhaps applied after mummification, like modern styling gel, to prepare a postmortem hairdo. Further testing promises to reveal the makeup of this mysterious product with permanent holding power. ---A. R. Williams NOW The Diving Bell Spider Lady Rai went to her grave with elaborate braids in the 16th century . . Half were unwrapped during research in 1909.