10 Superpowers You May Actually Have
By Robert Grimminck, Toptenz, 30 November 2015.
By Robert Grimminck, Toptenz, 30 November 2015.
The human body can do some amazing things, and thanks to genetics, there are some people who can do things that are beyond the normal range of human skills and abilities. While these superpowers don’t include things like flying or telepathy, they are still pretty remarkable. You may even have some hiding in you, waiting for a chance to emerge so that you can save the world. Or at the very least, impress some girls.
This superpower should be pretty self-explanatory: it’s a heightened sense of taste. The reason some people taste flavours stronger is simply because they have more taste buds. These extra taste buds make them sensitive to flavour, and as a result, they have strong likes or dislikes for certain foods like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, coffee, and grapefruit.
About 25 percent of people in the world are supertasters, while 50 percent are medium tasters and at the complete opposite end of the spectrum are non-tasters, who think everything tastes a little bland, and who make up 25 percent of the population. Women are more likely to be supertasters and people from Asia, Africa, and South America also have a higher chance of being supertasters.
You can test to see if you’re a supertaster by placing a drop of blue food colouring on the tip of your tongue. Rinse your mouth out and make sure it’s dry. Then, place a wax ring or binder enforcer ring on the blue dot and count how many papillae, which are the bumps on your tongue, are inside the ring. If you have more than 30, then you are probably a supertaster.
9. Golden Blood
Nicknamed the “Golden Blood,” Rh-null is one of the rarest and most precious blood types on earth. It is so rare that in 50 years, only 43 people have been found to have this blood type.
How blood types work is that on every red blood cell, there are up to 342 antigens, which are molecules that are capable of triggering the production of antibodies. How people’s blood types are determined is through the absences and presences of those antigens. Then, there are 35 different types of blood systems, and a majority of those blood systems encompass the 342 antigens. For example, ABO is the most common blood system and it’s where you find the most common blood types like A+, B-, O+, and so on. Rh is a different system from ABO and almost all Rh blood types are made up from 61 antigens. How Rh-null is different from other Rh blood types is that Rh-null does not contain any of the 61 antigens, which, until 50 years ago, scientists thought was impossible. Before the blood type was discovered in a living person in the early 1960s, foetuses with the blood type were aborted because doctors did not think the baby would survive.
Now that they have realized that people can live with that blood type, it has become incredibly valuable for a number of reasons. First is that since it’s a negative blood type, it’s a universal donor for all people with Rh blood. But the blood is only used for transfusions in emergencies because the blood is so rare and incredibly valuable to scientists and researchers, so they are reluctant to give it up. In fact, currently there are only nine active Rh-null donors in the whole world. Some researchers have even gone so far as to track down donors and personally approach them, asking for some of their blood.
8. Super Vision
Tetrachromacy is an incredibly rare variation in a gene that allows women to see colours that are invisible to most people. How most people see colour is that light enters the eye and goes through three cones. Some animals, like certain birds, reptiles, insects, and fish, have four cones and that fourth one extends the colour perception into the UV range. Over time, mammals have evolved away from using this fourth cone, but a very small group of people apparently has a genetic variation where they utilize that fourth cone.
The reason only women can have Tetrachromacy is because, in order to have it, someone needs two gene variations and the variation only appears on the X-chromosome. Since males have an XY-chromosome set, it is impossible for them to have two gene variations. On the flip side of it, this is why many males do not see colours the same way as women and why men are more likely to be colour-blind.
As for how much it affects someone’s vision, if you look at the picture above, it was painted by a woman who has Tetrachromacy and it should give you some idea as to how she sees the world compared to the way nearly everybody else does.
7. Rubber Skin and Joints
Ehlers Danlos syndrome is actually a group of disorders that are inherited. The syndrome causes people to have rapid growth spurts, and they can continue to grow into adulthood. It also gives them stretchy skin and incredible flexibility, especially in smaller joints. The reason they are more flexible is because the connective tissue is looser and they can dislocate bones near painlessly.
While being more flexible and having rubbery skin may sound like a good thing, there are a lot of downsides to the syndrome. If they get cut and need stitches, the stitches may not hold because of the elasticity of the skin leaving them with horrible scars. Also, since the joints never really settle, it can lead to early onset arthritis. Not to mention awful growing pains from rapid growth spurts.
One fan theory believes that there actually is a comic book character that has Ehlers Danlos syndrome and that is Batman’s arch nemesis, the Joker.
This ability, which, of course, is the same one that Daredevil uses, is utilized by a number of blind and visually impaired people to help them “see” the world. What is interesting about this one is that it is not an innate power, but some people have the ability to learn how to do it.
Commonly, people use echolocation by clicking their tongues and through training, they can pick up subtle audio clues of where objects are. So while they don’t visualize the world quite the way that Daredevil does, some people are so good at it that they can tell what objects their sound is bouncing off of.
Some notable cases include Daniel Kish, who was blind since he was a baby. He can ride a bike, climb mountains, and live in the wilderness alone, all because of his echolocation skills. Or there is Ben Underwood, who had his eyes removed due to cancer when he was three. He learned how to do all the things normal teenagers do like play video games, foosball, basketball, football and he was fearless on his rollerblades. Sadly, Ben passed away from the same cancer that claimed his eyes on January 19, 2009 at the age of 16.
5. Never Age
Staying young for your entire life may seem like one of the better superpowers, especially if you compare it with the ailments of growing old. In reality though, the mysterious syndrome, known as Syndrome X, is actually more of a curse than a superpower. That is because the aging process doesn’t stop when you’re in your prime, like your 20s. Instead, some people stay children for their whole life, like Brooke Greenberg, who was the size and had the mental capacity of a toddler for her entire 20-year life. Or there is Gabby Williams of Billings, Montana who is 10, but still looks and acts like a toddler. Finally, there is Nicky Freeman, who lives in Australia. He grows one year every four years, meaning that while he is 45 now, he is trapped in the body of an 11-year-old.
While this syndrome has to be an incredible hardship on the families of the inflicted, these people may help unlock the solution to stopping the aging process once people get into adulthood. And unlocking this secret may not guarantee we would live forever, it will at least give us the option of living for a long time and still leaving a beautiful corpse behind.
4. Immunity to Pain
A big benefit when it comes to fighting crime is not being able to feel pain. After all, that is the power that Kick-Ass utilizes to fight crime. While he had nerve damage, there is an actual syndrome where people don’t feel pain called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA). The rare genetic condition affects the development of small nerve fibres that send sensations of pain and hot and cold to the brain. Meaning in addition to not feeling pain, they also aren’t affected by extreme heat or coldness.
While not being able to feel pain sounds like a good thing, it is actually a pretty dangerous syndrome. Just because someone doesn’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean they are immune to injuries. For example, when babies with the syndrome are teething, they can chew until their gums bleed and when their teeth come in, they can bite through their tongue and not notice. As they get older, they can easily burn or cut themselves and not realize they did it and this can lead to infections.
Meaning that while they feel less pain, they actually have to be more careful because they could seriously injure themselves and not realize that anything is wrong.
3. Unbreakable Bones
Thanks to a very rare genetic mutation called LRP5, a small group of people have nearly unbreakable bones due to an incredibly high bone density. This oddity was first noted in 1994, after an unnamed man was involved in a bad car accident. He was uninjured, but just to be safe, they X-rayed him and found out that his bone density was eight times higher than the average man of the same age. Sometime later, doctors came across a family and each family member had a very high bone density, along with very square jaws and they sank when they tried to swim. After finding the family, doctors traced their family’s lineage and they were able to link the family to the man in the car accident. Then they found other people from the family tree with the same mutation, like a man living in Alabama who had problems getting a hip replacement because his bones were too dense to put screws into the bone.
To movie fans, this condition may sound familiar because it appears to be the same condition that Bruce Willis’ character had in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable.
2. Super Strength
Myostatin-Related Muscle Hypertrophy is an incredibly rare condition and there are only a few documented cases, but it is essentially super strength. How it works is there is a protein in the body called myostatin and it affects muscle growth. If the body produces a lot of myostatin, then it is harder for the body to grow muscle, where if someone has low myostatin, then they can develop muscles easier and they are less likely to retain fat.
Currently, there are two known cases in the world. One is Liam Hoekstra, who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. By the time he was five months old, he was able to do the iron cross, which is a weight lifting exercise. When he was 8 months old, he could do pull ups and by the time he was 19 months, he could hang upside down by his feet and do inverted crunches. The other certified case is an unnamed German boy who is apparently even stronger than Liam.
1. Immunity to Disease
Did you know there are some people who are immune to deadly diseases? It’s true and it is all thanks to them being mutants. Just to name a few, there are people who have a rare genetic mutation that keeps them immune from HIV. Another example is that a small group of Amish people have an ultra-low chance of getting heart disease. Or there is the case of the people of Quito, Ecuador. In the town, there is a cluster of people with a unique type of dwarfism that also keeps them immune from cancer.
This is actually one of the more interesting superpowers because if you have it, then you may be responsible for literally saving countless peoples’ lives. The Resilience Project is looking for people who should have gotten sick, but didn’t, to donate DNA. The donors will be anonymously scanned for the 685 genes that cause 127 different diseases. They believe that these people may hold the clues to better treatment and quite possibly curing mankind’s deadliest inflictions.
Top image credit: burak kostak/Pexels.
[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image and some links added.]