In the X-Men legend, mutant powers are attributed to the presence of a mutant X-gene, which of course is fictional, but genetic mutations are themselves a very real and powerful part of the evolutionary process.
Humans are around 99.9% genetically identical. This means that a meager .1% difference is responsible for what can seem like an immense amount of dissimilarity within the human race. The lesson here is that we’re really a lot more alike than we are different. Technically, we’re all mutants with variations in eye, hair, and skin color. But what really determines the impact of a mutation is where it happens. Some mutations are bad news. Most mutations have little or no known effect and, in fact, “sometimes a mutation is beneficial or downright groovy,” as noted by Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class.
For this reason, there are some people who live among us that have the benefit of an advantageous genetic mutation. They may not have the ability to conjure thunder from the sky or instantaneously heal from a gunshot wound, but these mutations can mean that people are stronger, can run farther, or can party harder the average humans. Yes, I said party harder.
Genetic mutations have given some very real people some very super human abilities. Here, I’ve presented a few.
I don’t know if Liam Hoekstra is a demi-god like Hercules, but one thing’s for sure: he’s on the trajectory to be as strong as him. If they ever do a movie on Hercules’s childhood, he could probably play the part with no stunt double. Liam Hoekstra is likely the strongest kid in America.
At the age of three, he was tossing around five-pound dumbbells. At four, he was six times stronger than children his age, and at six, his incredible metabolism required him to eat a monstrous six meals a day. Now, he should be just about ten years old, with an estimate of 40% more muscle mass than the average male his age.
Liam’s super strength is caused by a rare genetic mutation in a gene for the protein myostatin. Myostatin acts on muscle tissue and regulates muscle growth. In Liam, and in those like him (because he’s not alone), this process is disrupted, resulting in a significant increase in muscle mass. As you know, more muscles lead to increased strength, inevitably giving a person super strength.
Liam may not be tossing around pickup trucks anytime soon, but it sure would be nice to have this kid around on moving day. There haven’t been many reports on him recently. He does have a Facebook page depicting normal activities, likely because his parents want him to have a normal childhood away from prying eyes. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how strong Liam becomes as he matures into a man.
Just thinking about running a 26-mile marathon makes me tired, let alone actually attempting to run one. If you’re all about the elite long distance runners, you’re aware that long runs will eventually involve muscle fatigue and tightness. This fatigue is the result of lactic acid build up and decreased oxygen flow to muscle tissue.
People like Eero Antero Mäntyranta don’t have this problem. He was a triple Olympic champion and Finnish cross-country skier. Eero had a total of seven Olympic medals during his career. In his heyday, he was considered a medical phenomenon by being able to maintain his endurance for immense distances. Eero had a hereditary mutation in the gene that codes for an erythropoietin receptor, leading to increased red blood cell mass. His mutation gave him a 50% increase in the oxygen carrying capacity in his blood, which turned out to be huge advantage when competing in endurance sports.
Learning about people like Eero makes me wonder how many other top-notch long distance athletes have this mutation or something similar.
The Prince of Darkness’s Party Harder Gene
Metal musician Ozzy Osbourne once admitted to reporters, “Given the swimming pools of booze I’ve guzzled over the years – not to mention all the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol, you name it – there is really no plausible medical reason why I should be alive.” Apparently, Ozzy’s mutant abilities have proven quite useful in the rock star party world. His mutant ability is that his body can endure extreme amounts of abuse – drug and alcohol abuse.
Some rock stars seemingly really are genetically inclined to party harder, and I mean drug and alcohol party hard. I sure as hell consider this a super power. Osbourne has multiple genetic mutations – some of which scientists have never seen before – that work together to protect his body. Osbourne has mutations in a gene called ADH4, which is associated with metabolizing substances such as alcohol and other drug compounds. Mutations in this gene are associated with alcohol and drug dependence.
Osbourne also has other mutations that lie in genes related to addiction, alcoholism, and the absorption of marijuana, opiates, and methamphetamines. His collective mutations may explain why he’s survived the consumption and use of copious amounts of drugs, alcohol, and hallucinogens.