Comic books and action movies give an unrealistic expectation of superhuman abilities. In reality, having an extra-human ability isn't all explosions, saving the world from evil, and flying off into the distance. If X-Men was real, for example, and we were all born with a random mutant ability, you can bet we wouldn’t all be able to read minds and control the weather. While there are some people with some pretty awesome "superpowers" (you can read about them in our article here), most of us would end up with these rather lackluster talents.
Most people only get goosebumps when they are cold, experiencing strong emotions, or listening to “Africa” by Toto; however, a select few people have the ability to consciously give themselves goosebumps on cue.
“It starts in the back of my neck,” an Argentinian man with this superpower recently told The Atlantic. “It’s like I have a muscle there and I just make it work.”
A recently posted pre-print study described 32 people who can control their goosebumps. They found that people with this ability tend to have personalities that are more open to experience. Other than this, it remains a bit of a mystery, although it doesn’t appear to be associated with any health problems.
Pretty cool as party tricks go, but unlikely to stop any villains from taking over the world.
The Real-Life Matter-Eater Lad
Michel Lotito was a Frenchman with the incredible ability to eat more or less anything he wished (except bananas and hard-boiled eggs, which reportedly made him sick).
During his lifetime, he consumed 18 bicycles, 15 shopping carts, seven TVs, six chandeliers, two beds, and even a Cessna 150 light aircraft – yup, he ate a whole plane. Of course, he ate the objects in smaller chopped-up pieces with liters of water, but it’s still fairly remarkable.
Lotito was awarded a brass plaque by the Guinness Book for his achievements. He was so honored, he ate that too.
The Human Towel-Dryer
Scientists have shown that some people are able to consciously up their body temperature through meditation.
During this study, the researchers headed to Tibet to witness a practice where nuns were able to raise their core body temperature and dry up wet sheets wrapped around their bodies in the cold Himalayan weather (-25°C/-13°F) while meditating. Lab experiments later showed that the nuns were able to consciously increase their core body temperature from 37 to 38.3°C (98.6°F to 100.9°F). It’s likely that the temperature of their fingertips and toes increased even higher.
There’s a genetic condition dubbed “immigration delay disease”, where people have no fingerprints.
Scientifically known as adermatoglyphia, it was first discovered when a Swiss woman struggled to get through immigration control when entering the US in 2007. Her dermatologists looked into the case and found that eight other members of the woman’s extended family also had no fingerprints. There are only four known extended families worldwide that have the condition.
It turns out that it is caused by a single gene mutation and is totally harmless, if not mildly inconvenient (then again, think of all the crimes you could get away with).
The Incredible Aging Rockstar
Ozzy Osbourne remains a total mystery to science. Nevertheless, sequencing his genome revealed some rather interesting insights into the human body and its limits. Despite living like a recklessly excessive, bat-eating lunatic for 40-odd years, Ozzy remains in remarkably good shape. A clue to this superpower could be in his genes and how it affects his metabolism.
As reported by Scientific American in 2010, one of the many findings was an unusual variant near ADH4, one of his alcohol dehydrogenase genes. In theory, a change to this gene could either increase or decrease a person’s tolerance and metabolism of excessive alcohol, but the scientists say they aren’t sure which.
Ozzy, however, is certain: “I used to drink four bottles of cognac a day. I’m not sure I need a Harvard scientist to get to the bottom of that mystery,” he replied in a column for the UK’s Sunday Times.
Once again, it’s a pretty incredible ability, but we can’t see Marvel or DC Comics picking it up anytime soon.
There’s a condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, or gut fermentation syndrome, that causes the gut to produce significant doses of alcohol from the sugars ingested in their diet, sometimes effectively leaving the person drunk. It’s believed that the condition is caused by Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast in the gastrointestinal system.
If you think this sounds like fun, you're wrong. Many people will experience chronic fatigue, belching, dizziness, disorientation, irritable bowel syndrome, and effectively a non-stop hangover. If you are fortunate enough to not experience severe symptoms, you could still be arrested on drunk-driving charges, as one Texas woman found out in 2016.