So you start out with a simple experiment, so simple in fact, that it sounds like Andrew and I came up with it when we were seven: How long do different species of spider survive underwater? You take 120 wolf spiders of three different species that live in marsh lands, and you submerge them underwater until they drown. Simple enough. Some live 24 hours, some 28 hours, and some 36. Ok, that’s a long time, but it makes sense as these creatures live in marshes so they must have adapted to survive submerged for extended periods of time. It is then, however, that things take a turn for the horrifying.
As you’re weighing out the dried out spider corpses, you notice that some of them start twitching. Then more and more begin twitching. Then all of a sudden, most of them are alive again. Not only are they alive, but they have grown to five times their normal size, have become exponentially more aggressive, and violently attack your entire research staff.
A scene from Left for Dead 3
While the last sentence of that previous paragraph was not, not false, the rest is completely true. Researchers at the University of Rennes in France had just this experience recently when conducting just such an experiment. It turns out the marsh dwelling wolf spiders are able to put themselves into comas, effectively changing their metabolic process to no longer require air, in order to survive long periods underwater.
“This is the first time we know of arthropods returning to life from comas after submersion,” Julien Pétillon, one of the lead researchers told National Geographic.
I wish I could have put myself into a coma to survive Andrew’s wedding last summer. Borrrrrring.