Real People With Mutant Superpowers That Would Put the X-Men To Shame
If you too are obsessed with mutants and super powers, even to a much lesser extent than me, stop what you're doing and read this.
The genetic superheroes!
If you too are obsessed with mutants and super powers, even to a much lesser extent than me, stop what you're doing and read this. No need to turn to the DC or the Marvel cinematic universe to see the make-believe, CGI-enhanced fictional super powers to quench your thirst for super-awesomeness. Mutants are very very real. And they walk amongst us. Some even fly! They may even Uber it from time to time...
Before we dive into the list of "Homosapiens-Superior", I wish to clear the air about mutations. Retractable adamantium claws, the ability to teleport, control the weather with your mind, or walk through walls (well at least without breaking them...) are not mutations. Sorry to burst that bubble of yours that Stan Lee and the likes thereof created for you. Actually, real mutations, or genetic typos, often result in very very minor changes in you, most of which are invisible. (no...not invisibility; that's different).
Mutations are nature's way of adding new variants to the gene pool - mix things up a bit, and lend to the evolution of a species. If the mutations are favourable or advantageous (or at least benign), they are conserved and propagated down generations, until they eventually (over a span of time you and I won't live through to witness) become a "normal" part of the larger gene pool for a species.
Evolution wouldn't be possible in the absence of mutations, since in the absence of these genetic glitches or typos, species wouldn't gain new attributes or abilities. Take a moment here to think about that one guy who carried a mutation that gave him the "superpower" to consume cow's milk and NOT get sick. Over the course of time, that mutation was passed on to a larger chunk of the population, and then an even larger fraction, and so on. Today we can't imagine life without the yummy goodness of a slice of cheese, hot chocolat au lait or fondue! Ahhh fondue! Amul, Mother Dairy and others - You're welcome.
Geneticists and scientists globally believe that every genome duplication event gives rise to about 100 new mutations among the 3.2 billion base pairs. This may sound like an alarmingly large number, but don't look around trying to find Charles Xaviers' new possible recruit amongst your co-workers just yet. Mutations are rather common, and most of them have a negligible impact on our lives. Most are termed as "silent mutations".
Having said that, it stands to reason that within the assembly of human mutations, a few would express themselves in the form of extraordinary, mind-boggling, superhuman, X-men mutant-ish abilities.
Here are 12 examples of clinically verified human abilities with a strong causative association with minute changes in the genetic code.
Naaaah! That doesn't sound too cool... How about...
Presenting 12 real-life mutants with superpowers that would put the DC and Marvel multiverses to shame!!
1. The Incredible Hulk
Let's be honest. When we think of genetic disorders, physical frailty is what comes to mind. When Dana Hoekstra and her husband adopted young Liam, who the doctors labeled as "afflicted with a grave genetic condition", they were as surprised as you would be when you discover that this "genetic abnormality" put infant Liam on the other side of the diseased physicality bell curve.
Yep. Born to a physically robust biological father, young Liam was diagnosed with myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy - a genetic condition so rare, that even today scientists can't ascertain its prevalence rate. This conditions blocks the production of myostatin - a protein which inhibits muscle growth. Individuals with this mutation possess much larger muscles (almost 40% more!), and much lesser body fat (close to 1%) than their "lesser" human counterparts.
While Liam doesn't appear to boast any tank-smashing, car-tossing, tree-uprooting strength, he is naturally much stronger than all his peers, even without doing any training. At the tender age of 3, Liam was able to lift 5 pound dumbbells and perform multiple chin ups...How many chin ups were you doing at that age?
By the way - Liam isn't the only documented case for this - In 1999, a boy was born in Germany, who looked, at first glance, no different from any other kid - well, except for his rippling muscles!! Aptly nicknamed - Das Uberboy, this kid too has the same mutation as Liam - just dialled up to 11. At the age of 4, he could lift more than 6-8 times the weight an average kid that age could even dream of lifting. His real name is not known, and his parents have kept him away from the limelight - Guess hiding his identity makes sense - to save his loved ones once Uberboy decides to don a cape and mask and begin patrolling the streets in the dark, righting the wrongs in the world.
2. The Pursuit of Happyness
Ever heard of William's syndrome? Probably not, considering it is rather uncommon, seen in 1 in 10,000 people globally. Caused by a deletion of 26-28 genes, some the physical ailments associated with William's syndrome are quite serious and can be life-threatening - cardiovascular diseases, learning disabilities and developmental delays. The mental effects of this disorder on the other hand, are nothing short of the definition of a blessing in disguise - almost a superpower in itself.
Those with William's syndrome are naturally kinder, more cheerful and more social than their regular human counterparts. While most of us trudge along in life with a long face and clouds of gloom over our heads for having dropped our perfectly buttered toast on the floor before we could take a bite, the William's syndrome folks are inherently able to find true happiness in the face of serious complications! (Dude! They've got major physical problems, and still they smile their way through life! A genuine smile!)
Interesting point - People with William's syndrome possess such a heightened affinity for music, that there are entire centres and programs dedicated to teaching music to the WS-Superhumans!
3. The Big Friendly Giant
Ok...I can't vouch for the "friendly" bit here, but people with Marfan syndrome are certainly BIG! This supersize isn't their only superpower though. Characterised by the weakening of connective tissue throughout the body, our everyday mutants with Marfan's typically grow taller than others, with much longer limbs and fingers and a ridiculous level of flexibility that allows them to bend in ungodly ways! Dubbed as a musician's best friend, Marfan's syndrome can often be painful, with this pain leading to musical genius. Yeah, I agree that sounds far-fetched, but hold on - Sergei Rachaminoff, a famous Russian pianist, and Niccolo Paganini, a violinist are famous musicians with Marfan's. In fact, Paganini was so so good that most people believed he sold his soul to Satan in exchange for his musical prowess, with the pain in his music causing halls full of people to burst into tears! So yeah...let's dial down that skepticism.
4. A Beautiful Mind
Actually, one of the real-life mutant superheroes that I plan on mentioning here, is the guy who inspired this movie. John Nash - a genius, superhuman, schizophrenic, savant - Had what is popularly called the Savant syndrome. Most people confuse Savant Syndrome with autism simply because it's the type of autism most commonly showcased on the television and the big screen with A Beautiful Mind and Rain Man being probably the most famous examples of this "disorder" on the large screen.
Savant Syndrome is seen in large complex disorders on the central nervous system, with only 10% of autistic people displaying savant syndrome, while only 50% of savant "syndromic" superheroes are diagnosed with autism. This syndrome causes the mutants to display extreme proficiency , almost bordering on genius, in specific focus areas such as math, art and music. This can be attributed to the near-perfect memory all savants are touted to possess!! (Definitely one of my top three picks for the superpower I wish I had...the other two being...ah dang it! I forget...)
5. Run Forrest Run!!
Doping and sports go hand in hand. Not judging here! But you know it's true.
While many athletes out there are busy experimenting with "gene doping" or administration of illicit performance enhancing drugs, just to get that edge in the competition; we also have people like Eero Mantyranta, the Finnish Olympic skiing champion, who just practice hard, go home and sleep - and yet experience the wonderful effects of performance aids without so much as touching one of them!! No kidding!
Not saying that superheroes (or genetic supercheaters...your call) such as Eero didn't want to experiment with those drugs, they simply didn't need to. You see - Forrest Gumps like Eero are born with a genetic mutation in their erythropoietin gene receptors that gives them the super ability of carrying over 50% more oxygen in their bloodstream than the rest of us, giving them that edge in endurance athletics, without being sneaky! Super Endurance - now that's a superpower FTW!
6. Pain and Gain
Actually, NO pain...That's the gain! Imagine life without pain. No no... not asking you to break up...I'll rephrase - Imagine life without physical pain! Now that's a superpower right out of Stan Lee's arsenal of "The best powers for the best Mutants!"
Getting a tattoo, working out, waxing, even giving birth... would suddenly become a whole lot easier if we could somehow just tell a specific part of our brain to shut down for a minute and NOT register that pain! Well... meet Ashlyn Blocker - one of several Superheroes out there who have a rare genetic condition called CIPA - a congenital insensitivity to pain. Whaaaaaaa???
CIPA "mutants", like Blocker, are unable to deliver messages of pain to the brain, rendering them completely unaware of any kind of physical pain. Drive a skewer through their hand, and they wouldn't even know it! While they do experience touch, and can differentiate between the textures of a knife blade and a moisturiser - push them both into their arms and see the CIPA magic take place. (Ok...don't)
But living painless is not all fun and games for these mutants whom Xaviers would like to poach - Not being able to feel pain or feel extreme temperatures leaves them highly susceptible to getting injured, burnt, or hypothermic, since the message titled "save-your-ass-here" is going to the spam folder in the part of their brain that should raise an alarm in such dangerous situations.
7. The Hunger Game(s)
Michel Lotito or Monsieur Mangetout as he was lovingly called, was a French "entertainer" and a mutant. His superpower? Well...Monsieur Mangetout roughly translates to "Mr. Eats All". Lotito was a superhero with an appetite....an appetite for...well everything! He could, and did, through the course of his career, eat all manners of non-consumable items made of rubber, glass and metals.
Super-eating (Guess that's an appropriate name for his super-power) allowed him to eat - and digest - metal, glass, rubber, and even toxic materials, as nonchalantly as you would pop a cookie in your mouth! His biggest achievement thus far? He ate a frickin' Cessna 150 airplane!!
No wait...this needs to be rewritten for clarity..
He ate a whole airplane! Admittedly, in parts.... Over the course of 2 years... but still...a WHOLE airplane!!!
Mr. Eats All's stomach lining is twice as thick as that of a regular human being thanks to a rare genetic condition, allowing him to stomach all those... AIRPLANES! (still can't get over that!). Michel succumbed to his billy-goat nature at the age of 9 years by eating a television set, and has since eaten his way into showbiz by happily chomping down bicycles, shopping trolleys, airplanes and even a coffin (I hope it was empty!).
8. Total Recall : The anti-Memento!
I'll be honest - I've often wished my paramour were a mutant. It would be so cool!! Imagine dating Mystique (a new person every time!), or Storm (no need to invest in Airconditioning ever!), or Nightcrawler (bye bye Uber..). I mean, just any power... would be so epic! Having said that however, there's this one very REAL mutant super-power that might go in the "avoidable" category in this list of abilities I wish my girl had.
Marilu Henner, the actress from the 70s sitcom Taxi, belongs to the pantheon of mutants that possess a photographic memory, thanks to a rare condition called hyperthymesia. These mutants can put Sheldon Cooper (of Big Bang Theory fame) to shame when it comes to recalling details. Total recall? Try Total PERFECT recall down to the minutest details from every second of their lives thus far. E-V-E-R-Y detail. (Told you you wouldn't want to date one of them!)
9. The curious case of Benjam...uh uh...OZZY OSBOURNE!
I like Ozzy Osbourne. But I'd be lying if I said I never really sat down and wondered...How the hell is he still alive?!?!? By his own admission, he has drank, injected, smoked, popped, snorted...every possible substance in the world...copious amounts thereof...repeatedly...for yeeeaaarrrsss!!! How is he still alive when most of his "colleagues" having similar interests have eulogies being written for them since time immemorial?!
Ok...really hang on to your seats for this. If you are a light drinker who gets a terrible hangover everytime you pick up that third goblet of merlot...stop reading NOW. This could get depressing for you.
The answer to Ozzy surviving his manic lifestyle could be - He's got mutant superpowers for partying!! Back in 2010, Ozzy got his genome sequenced, leaving scientists puzzled! They found several variants in his genome, unsurprisingly in the regions associated with alcoholism and metabolism of methamphetamines and other recreational drugs - variants they had "never seen before". Turns out - his body metabolises, absorbs and clears alcohol and drugs from his system in a manner so efficient, he could turn vegan and live on cannabis for the rest of his life, while us lesser mortals keep stocking our medicine cabinet with hangover pills and pledging to "stop at 2 drinks" for the remainder of our sad sad lives.
...well not really. 8 hours of sleep each night is a must for a healthy life. We've all grown up hearing this. Truth be told, I for one feel way too restless lying down for more than 5 hours, unless I'm exhausted beyond belief (you know...following a heated argument with my doesn't-forget-a-thing mutant girlfriend). Turns out, this 8 hour rule isn't for everyone. Each person requires different amounts of zzzzzzz time - some more, some less. And this is partly determined by one's genetics.
Take this mother-daughter duo for example, who stumped sleep-study researchers in UC San Francisco, when it was discovered that they slept for just about an hour or two every day - and were just as refreshed thereafter as an average Joe is after he completes his 8 hour journey through dreamland. It was found that these two had a mutation in their DEC2 gene, which is associated with the body's circadian rhythm, making them "short-sleepers". These people (about 5% of the population) need waaayyyyyy less sleep than the average humans.
Now this is one very very useful superpower if you think about it. If you every wish to become a crime fighting vigilante, patrolling the rooftops of Gotham (or wherever you dwell) at night to ensure law and order, it would be rather funny if you were found snoring away on some ledge every other night. Crime doesn't sleep...neither do these Mutants. (I think I found one trait to keep for creating a super army!!)
Remember that scene in The Dark Knight Rises when Bane breaks Batman's back as easily as snapping a twig, causing the city to descend into anarchy in the absence of the Dark Knight? Well...Bruce Wayne wouldn't have had to endure that, if only he was somehow related to this unnamed family in Connecticut who possess a mutation in their DNA that makes their bones UNBREAKABLE!!!
You read that right! Members of this family carry a genetic mutation that causes high bone density, by disrupting the Wnt signaling pathway and increasing the function of the LRP5 gene. This leads to....do you really care!? Long story short - their bones are so so dense, that they are practically unbreakable!!
Downside to this? While they would make killer superheroes - they probably won't be able to fly with such dense bones (Oh no!), and forget beating Aquaman on his turf. They sink like stones every time they try to swim! Still dude...Unbreakable bones! Hot damn!
12. The mutation Charlie Sheen's "girlfriends" wish they had!
By now you can probably make a rather educated guess about what this super power might be.
Stephen Crohn. The man who Hi-"V"ed HIV (geddit? geddit?). Back in the 1970s, a virus ravaged the gay community - one that claimed many lives - one that latter got dubbed as HIV. Enter Stephen Crohn, the one man who managed to never get sick, even though his boyfriends, acquaintances, flings, paramours, and other members of the same persuasion around him succumbed to this then-mysterious ailment.
It was discovered that he carried a "delta 32 mutation". The superpower that came with it? His CD4 white blood cells were immune to HIV. THIS MAN WAS IMMUNE TO HIV!!! What a mutant!
...One bonus entry. Ok...this may take us from the Superhero to the Supervillain domain...
13. Catch me if you can
The ultimate superpower for any wanna be super criminals reading this! There are some mutants amongst us who have a rare condition, hilariously dubbed "Immigration delay disease".
Adermatoglyphia is a genetic condition that causes the mutants carrying it to have NO fingerprints! While this is certainly at the epitome of must-have-superpowers for all aspiring criminals out there, it comes with its fair share of problems too. Try clearing immigration and you'll know what I'm talking about! Well good news is, if you are mutant with no fingerprints, you can still buy an iPhone, now that the fingerprint sensor is gone! Oh wait...if you really are a fingerprint-deprived mutant, why would you BUY an iPhone? :)
(Article contributed by: Mapmygenome)
(Being a key player in the field of Personal Genomics in India, Mapmygenome has carved out a niche for itself. Founded in January 2013, we started as India's pioneering Genomics Company with a vision to "Touch 100 million lives and save a million lives by 2030." Backed by 16+ years of experience in genomics, Mapmygenome stemmed from Ocimum Biosolutions it is essentially, a personal genomics and molecular diagnostics company for people who are proactive about their health. We offer personalized health, fitness and wellness solutions based on genetic tests that help people know more about themselves.)
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