Humans are around 99.9% genetically identical. This means that a mere .1% difference is responsible for what seems like an immense amount of variation within the human race. The lesson here is that we are really a lot more alike than we are different.

In the X-Men saga, 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.

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.

Technically, we are all mutants with variations in eye, hair color and skin color. But what really determines the impact of a mutation is where it occurs in our genes.

So what if I told you there are some powerful mutants among us?

They may not have the ability to instantaneously heal from a gunshot wound,  conjure thunder from the sky or manipulate metal with a flick of the wrist, but they are way stronger, can run farther, and can party harder. Yes, I said party harder. Genetic mutations have given some very real people some very super human abilities.

Mr. Super Endurance

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/EeroMantyranta.jpg

Have you ever run a 26 mile marathon? Neither have I. If you have, you’re aware that it involves some extreme muscle tightness well before the end of the race. Just thinking about it makes me tired. This tightness 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. In his hay day, 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 oxygen carrying capacity in his blood, which turned out to be huge advantage when competing in endurance sports. Eero had a total of seven Olympic medals during his career.

Beast… The kid version before he turned blue

I don’t know if Liam Hoekstra will be as smart as Beast, but one thing is for sure, he is on the trajectory to be as strong as him. If they ever do a movie on Beast’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 3 he was slinging around 5 pound dumbbells. At 4 he was 6 times stronger than kids his age and at 6 his unbelievable metabolism required him to eat a whopping six 6 meals a day.  Now, he should be just shy of 10 years old, with 40% more muscle mass than the average male his age.

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http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2009/06/liam_hoekstra_the_world_strong.html

 

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 pick-up trucks anytime soon, but it sure would be nice to have this kid around on moving day. There have not been many reports on him recently, likely because his parents want him to have a ‘normal’ childhood away from prying eyes. Still,  it will be interesting to see how strong Liam becomes as he matures into a man.

 

The Super Party Gene: The Prince of Darkness

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http://www.thatsnotmetal.com/2011/02/ozzy-osbourne.html

Metal musician Ozzy Osbourne once confessed, “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.”

Party Like a rock star! Anyone else remember that song?

Apparently some rock stars  really are genetically inclined to party  hard, and I mean drug and alcohol party hard. I sure as hell consider this a super power.

Apparently Ozzy’s mutant abilities have proven quite useful in rock star party world.  His mutant ability is that his body can endure extreme amounts of abuse. Osbourne has multiple genetic mutations- some of which scientists have never seen before that work together to protect his body.

Particularly, he has mutations in a gene call ADH4, which is associated with metabolizing substances such as alcohol. 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 consumption and use of copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and hallucinogens have not killed him.

References

Featured image from comicvine.com

 

Tiffany-Brunson_headTiffany Brunson earned a PhD in biomedical science and a JD in law, with expertise in molecular genetics, general public health, and legislative concepts. Dr. Brunson has authored several scientific articles, a poetry book and a children’s book series on science. She seeks to encourage and promote fundamental interest and understanding in the sciences. ​Aside from her day job in the field of health science, she is part owner of a boutique publishing company based out of Atlanta, GA. She enjoys science fiction, Greek and Roman history as well as vampire sagas. She has two adorable dogs, enjoys writing poetry and loves New York style pizza.