If you ever wondered what the world would be like with real-life superheroes, you need not ponder any longer. It turns out they exist, but they aren’t exactly decked out in spandex saving the helpless from burning buildings. People with real superpowers appeared since the dawn of the 20th century, and their abilities rival even those of some of your favorite characters. One real superhero used their abilities at the Olympics, while another simply climbs whatever structure they find, laws against buildering be d*mned!
The most fascinating aspect about these real-life superheroes on this list is they’re largely just normal people with incredible gifts. Sure, a couple of the men and women with real-life superpowers used their abilities to gain fame and fortune, but most of them lead normal lives, albeit with abnormal abilities.
Ben Underwood Could See Sound
Before passing away in 2009 from retinal cancer, Ben Underwood was the real-life parallel to Daredevil, the blind lawyer who could “see” vibrations. After being diagnosed with retinal cancer at the age of two, Underwood had both of his eyes removed by the age of three. Through a process called echolocation, Underwood learned to detect the locations of objects by making a clicking sound with his tongue. By creating sounds with his tongue or tapping a cane, Underwood was able to build a world around himself out of wave forms and lead an incredibly active life.
Dave Mullins Can Stay Underwater For A Really Long Time
In early 2017 Dave Mullins, a New Zealand deep-sea diver, set a record for the deepest dive ever recorded in New Zealand. The 37-year-old swam the length of four swimming pools on one breath, and might have accidentally shown everyone that he’s the real Aquaman. While some athletes might be braggy about their accomplishment, Mullins remained pretty chill about the whole thing. “Going down, I just focused on a handful of things which I needed to get right. It sounds really mundane, but it’s about relaxing my chest muscles, equalizing, and keeping relaxed all the way down to the bottom.” Yeah, no big deal, he just relaxed while allowing himself to sink into the ocean from whence he may have never returned. The next time you lose your contacts while swimming, Mullins is the guy to call.
Jyothi Raj Is Gifted With Super Dexterity
Jyothi may not be able to shoot super sticky webbing out of his wrists or sense when danger is coming, but in every other aspect he’s a modern-day Spider-Man. This wall crawler lives in Karnataka, India and he discovered his uncanny climbing ability while climbing some bamboo scaffolding. He told the Daily Mail: “I discovered my ability to climb in this manner working on the bamboo scaffolding when I started as a construction worker. I could climb at an incredible rate without fear. I began to climb for fun at the weekends and came to the famous fort here at Chitradurga to entertain the crowds, especially on Sundays.” Jyothi also says that he learned to climb by watching monkeys and copying the stunts in his favorite films.
One Connecticut Family Has Super Strong Bones
Scientists at Yale university studied an anonymous Connecticut family and found that they may contain the secret to treating and containing osteoporosis. The family has a mutation in the LRP5 gene, which controls some aspects of bone density. According to Richard P. Lifton, chair of the Yale Department of Genetics, “If there are living counterparts to the [hero] in Unbreakable, who is in a terrible train wreck and walks away without a single broken bone, they’re members of this family… [t]hey have extraordinarily dense bones and there is no history of fractures. These people have about the strongest bones on the entire planet.”
Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to mimic the genetic mutation of this super family and fight against osteoporosis.
Shakuntala Devi Is A Mathemagician
Born in Bengaluru Karnataka, India to a circus performer, Devi began showing her ability for memorization and calculation before she was even in preschool. According to her biography, her father was showing her how to perform a card trick and she memorized an entire deck of cards after it had been shuffled. Until her death in 2013, Devi amazed audiences with her ability to remember the dates and perform complex mathematical calculations with nothing but her mind. Not only could she pinpoint the dates of every Monday in a given year, but she could find cube roots of massive numbers that would take anyone else a graphing calculator and a white board. When interviewers would ask her how she did it, Devi simply answered, “It’s a very automatic reaction. . . . I was born with this gift.”
Daniel Tammet Is A Human Rosetta Stone
What would you say about someone who is a mathematical genius, can speak other languages, made up their own language, and who can compute astronomical calculations before you’ve finished reading this sentence? Probably that they have superhuman abilities, right? Daniel Tammet wouldn’t agree with you, but that’s just because he’s a sweetie that doesn’t want to sound like a jerk in interviews. Tammet was born with the ability to experience a mathematical equation rather than just see it on paper. He told ABC, “The numbers are moving in my mind. Sometimes they’re fast, sometimes they’re slow. Sometimes they’re dark. Sometimes they’re bright. That emotion, that motion, that texture will be highly memorable for me.” Whatever equation he’s given, Tammet visualizes those numbers into a form and transforms them into a new image that suits the solution.
Michel Lotito Can Eat Everything
One superhero that rarely gets love is the classic DC character Matter Eater Lad, a character who could and did eat anything. Perhaps people realized they didn’t need a fictional character when they could just watch Michel Lotito, or Mr. Eat-All. Lotito was a French entertainer who grew up with a mental disorder called pica which caused him to compulsively eat non-food items. When Lotito grew up, he turned his disability into a paycheck and began eating things for profit. While he was still alive Lotito ate everything from chandeliers to a Cessna 150 Airplane, and that meal took a full two years to complete.
Mr. Eat-All claimed he never felt any negative effects from gobbling up everything in sight, and before each performance he drank mineral oil and would continue drinking a lot of water during the meal. It makes you wonder how he would have done on the modern competitive eating circuit.
Usain Bolt Shouldn’t Be As Fast As He Is
According to Dr. Sam Allen, Lecturer in Biomechanics at Loughborough University, Usain Bolt has no business being as fast as he is. The main school of thought behind Bolt’s speed anomaly is that his frame is all wrong; at 6’5 he shouldn’t be able to excel at the 100m where rapid turnover and explosive power are crucial. Dr. Allen explains, “What we do know is that elite sprinters need to be able to generate extremely high muscle forces relative to their body mass, in the very short period of time when they’re actually in contact with the ground. All other things being equal, most sprinters spend a similar length of time in the air once they’re at top speed, but better sprinters spend less time on the ground.”
Multiple researchers have studied Bolt’s body and come to the conclusion that he has longer muscle fascicles and shorter Achilles tendons, which allow him to apply force to the ground for longer. But even that doesn’t explain his uncanny speed. Dr. Allen continues, “There is no obvious biomechanical reason why height should be either an advantage or disadvantage at maximum speed.” So maybe he just straight-up has super powers.
Liam Hoekstra Is The Strongest Kid (And Maybe Person) In The World
Born in 2005 and raised in Roosevelt Park, Michigan, Liam Hoekstra was given-up for adoption by his biological mother due to the many medical issues he faced as an infant. His adopted parents, Dana and Neil Hoekstra, first noticed his abnormal strength when Liam did an extremely advanced gymnastics move at five-months-old. Later, at a toddler’s gym class, he was able to perform chin-ups with ease (something a lot of adults struggle with) and held his torso above a chin-up-bar for several minutes.
Liam has an uncommon genetic condition called muscle hypertrophy. Basically, his body builds muscle extremely quick while also inhibiting the production of fat. When he was three-years-old, Liam’s body was already 40% muscle. His metabolism is also impacted, meaning he can eat whatever he wants and remain in excellent shape, no workout required. Would that we were all so blessed.
Dutch daredevil Wim Hof has achieved global recognition for his ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures without adverse effects to his body. Once, in New York City, Hof stood fully immersed in ice for one hour and 52 minutes. He’s also run a marathon in the Namib Desert without water, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts in two days, and ran a marathon in five hours and 25 minutes above the arctic circle (dressed only in shorts, of course). While Hof claims that anyone and everyone can learn his techniques, some scientists think that “The Iceman” has much higher levels of brown adipose tissue than normal humans, allowing him a greater degree of cold resistance.
Gary Turner Is Super Stretchy
Mr. Fantastic has nothing on Gary Turner, a man who has skin that’s so loose he can turn the skin around his stomach into a flat surface, all thanks to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that has weakened his skin. Turner said that if you, “look at your own skin cells under a microscope, they’d be nice and round and lock in many places. But my skin cells tend to be more jagged, and don’t fit together quite so well. The best way to describe it is I’m built rather like a badly woven basket, if you can imagine that, which will pull apart.” According to Turner he first noticed that his skin was abnormally stretchy when he was a toddler, and ever since then he’s been testing the limits of what his body can do.
An ultra-marathon runner from the United States, Dean Karnazes has an impressive list of accomplishments. He ran 50 marathons in 50 states over the course of 50 consecutive days, once ran 350 miles for over 80 hours without sleep, and once ran from Disneyland to New York City in 75 days (a journey of about 3,000 miles, meaning he ran around 40 to 50 miles a day).
Essentially, he’s a real life Forrest Gump. He just never stops, and some people have alleged that he could run 7-10 miles an hour until he passed away of old age, assuming he was adequately fed and hydrated.
Ozzy Osbourne has ingested an aggressive amount of intoxicants in his decades as a rock star, and by the lead singer of Black Sabbath’s own admission, “there’s really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive.” Scientists at Knome, Inc., however, posited that the answer might lie in Osbourne’s DNA. The company sequenced his genome in 2010, and found that Osbourne had several gene-variants they’d never seen before.
These gene-variants are believed to make the musician scientifically able to handle massive amounts of drugs and alcohol. Basically, don’t try to keep up with Osbourne unless you have a death wish.
Javier Botet Moves Like A CGI Monster
The name Javier Botet may not be a household name, but if you’ve watched a horror movie in the last decade you’ve seen the work he can do with his extraordinary abilities. Botet was born with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that is characterized by tall statures, slender frames, and elongated limbs and digits. Coming in at 6′ 7″ and weighing just over 100-pounds, Botet turned his odd condition into a lifestyle when he began working in films like [REC], The Conjuring 2, and Mama. Director James Wan told Bloody Disgusting, “I’ve seen a few critics refer to a Conjuring 2 character as CGI or stop-motion, but is in fact played by the incredible, and very real, Javier Botet. [He] creates amazing movements with his body. Like a living, jittery, stop-motion puppet. All done on-camera.”