People Born With Crazy Mutations
Let's explore some amazing people born with crazy mutations!Weird
Let’s learn about some real mutants, and without the crummy CGI of the New Mutants. Join me on our journey through history as we hear some inspirational stories and learn some mind-blowing bodies. Here are some incredible people born with mind-blowing mutations!
Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man
You may not recognize the name Joseph Merrick, but I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of the Elephant Man. The 1980 film tells the story of a kindly Victorian doctor who rescues a disfigured man from abuse but that’s not exactly what happened.
Based on a real story, when Joseph was born in 1862 in Leicester, England, he appeared completely normal. As he got bigger, however, so did large grey growths on his body. Joseph’s family believed his condition was caused by his mother being frightened by a fairground elephant while pregnant with him, a belief that Joseph maintained his entire life.
The idea that the development of an unborn child could be affected in remarkably specific ways, reflecting unusual experiences the mother underwent, was called ‘maternal impression’. Under this slightly whacky theory, a pregnant woman started by a frog, for instance, might produce a baby with webbed toes.
Though a common belief at the time, it’s since been thoroughly discredited by modern science. Even so, it’s not known what Joseph’s condition really was, modern professionals have suggested Proteus Syndrome, a disorder that causes uneven growth of bone, skin, and fat. Others have theorized it was neurofibromatosis, a defective gene that causes the growth of tumors. Some even believe it may have been both.
Without other means to earn a living, Merrick began exhibiting himself in London’s East End. Curious medical students would visit him often, which is how Merrick met Frederick Treves, a medical professional that took a particular interest in him.
While the movie portrays him as kind, history shows Frederick had little sympathy for Merrick. Frederick described Joseph as ‘the most disgusting specimen of humanity that I had ever seen...’ And once Merrick died Frederick had his skeleton preserved for study.
Merrick was far stronger-willed than Frederick or Hollywood gave credit for. After working for manager Tom Norman for 22 months, Merrick earned £50. This was a larger salary than his manager and about a year’s income for a working-class family at the time.
Merrick also did not enjoy being inspected by Frederick or other doctors, saying he felt like an ’animal in a cattle market.’ Let’s not forget that Joseph was an intelligent thoughtful man. One poignant poem of his reads: ‘Tis true, my form is something odd/but blaming me, is blaming God/Could I create myself anew/I would not fail in pleasing you.’
Stephan Bibrowski, The Lion-Faced Man
Born in Poland in 1890, Stephan Bibrowski had a condition known as hypertrichosis. This caused golden hair to grow all over his body. The hair on his face reached an impressive 8 inches long and 4 inches on the rest of his body. The only places left bare were the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet.
Many stories emerged about Stephan during his life that may not be entirely true. For instance, it’s been claimed that Stephan’s mother believed her son was born with the condition because she watched his father get mauled to death by a circus lion while pregnant with him. There’s that pesky maternal impression again!
Stephan moved to America and worked at the Coney Island circus as a gymnast where he was dubbed Lionel the Lion-Faced Man. Some say that Stephan was proud of his golden locks.
According to one story when there was a fire in a hotel he was staying in, Stephan was the first outside. Apparently, he was terrified the fire would singe his hair and leave him ‘just an ordinary man.’
Many people assumed he was a wild beast, yet Stephan was intelligent. He enjoyed talking to audiences and could speak five languages. He let people get up close to him to show them that he was not a monster like many of them assumed.
Sadly, people with this condition have had to face prejudice like this throughout history. A familiar story comes from Krao Farini, who toured across North America and Europe as a sideshow performer during the late 19th century.
Her promoters claimed she was captured and taken from the jungles of Siam, and that she belonged to a tribe of ‘missing links’ between humans and apes. The reality is that hypertrichosis can’t be cured and still impacts people today. However, cosmetic treatments have advanced so that the condition’s effects can be lessened if the person wishes.
Johnny Eck, The Amazing Half-Boy
Johnny Eck was born in Baltimore, in 1911, with a form of caudal regression syndrome. This caused the bottom of his spine to develop abnormally and as a result, Johnny had no lower torso. Apart from this, Johnny was in good health and learned to walk on his hands by just 1.
He worked as a sideshow performer during the 1930s and played the Gooney Bird in the Tarzan films, and had a small role in Freaks. Funnily enough, Johnny’s twin brother Robert lacked the condition, which the two used to their advantage.
In 1937 Johnny and Robert teamed up with the magician Rajah Raboid to put on a memorable show. Robert would sit amongst the crowd like any other audience member, but throughout the show would heckle Raboid. Eventually, Raboid would invite the theatre critic onstage. The magician would then vengefully saw Robert in half.
However, using a little trickery, Robert would switch with Johnny, who played the top half of his body. A person with dwarfism played the bottom half, hidden in specially built trousers. The blade would come down slicing the heckler in half.
Once free of that cumbersome torso the legs would suddenly stand up and run away. Johnny would jump off the table and chase the legs across the stage, screaming: ‘Come back! I want my legs back!’ Even chasing the legs into the crowd, much to the delight and horror of the audience.
As the public appetite for sideshow acts dwindled the brothers found themselves out of business and they returned to their family home in Baltimore. By the 1980s Johnny was disappointed at his lack of wealth after having such a long career.
Things didn’t get much better for the brothers when in 1987 the twins were robbed and assaulted in their home. One of the burglars even sat on Johnny while the other took his belongings. Neither brother fully recovered from the ordeal, and they stopped hosting and became reclusive.
Robert Wadlow, The Tallest Man Ever
Reaching a can from the highest counter at the supermarket may be a tall order for some, but for Robert Wadlow this would have been a little issue.
Robert was born in Alton, Illinois in 1918, and like many young tots Robert grew up fast, unlike many other young tots, however, he didn’t stop growing. Even as a child, Robert quickly grew to over 6 ft. and was so strong he could carry his father upstairs like he was the child.
Aged only 17 Robert surpassed 8 ft., at which he joined the Ringling Brothers Circus, gaining much notoriety. He even joined the local Freemasons lodge complete with a masonic ring, probably the largest masonic ring ever made!
Robert also holds the record for largest feet at 18½ inches. His hands measured 12.7 inches from the wrist to the tip of his middle finger. You could probably fit a puppy in one of his gloves, depending on the breed.
Robert’s towering height was caused by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which produced an abnormally high level of growth hormones. The condition is called acromegaly or gigantism if the condition develops before puberty.
Despite all this glamour, Robert’s condition brought many difficulties. He lacked feeling in his feet and legs which caused mobility issues and he often needed support from a cane or leg brace. It was this reliance that ultimately took his life.
During an Independence Day parade, Robert was taken ill with a fever. On his right ankle, a septic blister had formed caused by a poorly fitted brace. Robert couldn’t feel any pain in his legs and so hadn’t noticed the infection. Despite doctors’ best efforts, Robert died on 14 July 1940, at just 22 years old.
By the time of his death, Robert was (and still is), the tallest human to have ever lived at 8 ft. 11 inches. That’s as tall as an Asian Elephant! His coffin was 10 ft. 9 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 30 inches deep and required two grave plots for him to be buried in.
Liew Thow Lin, The Magnet Man
Meet Malaysian man Liew Thow Lin, also known as Mr Magnet. He earned that title due to his reported ability to stick 79 lbs of metal objects to his body without any adhesive. Liew didn’t discover his powers until the age of 60 when, while working in construction, found that his tools kept sticking to his skin.
Despite the name, it’s not really magnetic. If Liew were magnetic he would have produced a magnetic field, and as far as we know, no compasses ever went berserk around him.
Also, notice how Liew is always topless. This isn’t because he liked letting it all hang out. While it might’ve been part of the reason, the main reason was that Liew likely had extra sticky skin that secretes higher levels of sebum. Sebum’s an oily substance that all mammals exude.
Everyone can blow on a spoon and it’ll stick to their nose, or lie on a leather couch on a hot day and watch your skin stick to the fabric. For Liew, this process was essentially in overdrive, which somewhat makes him more of a sticky man than a magnetic man. They should really call him Mr. Sticky, though that doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Throughout his life, Liew performed for charitable causes such as helping a care home for disabled children. In 2008, at age 78, Liew hooked himself to a bus and pulled it for about 11 ft. in less than a minute.
Liew passed away in 2013 at age 83, but do not fear, the sticky gene survives in Muhibija Buljubasic and Etibar Elchiyev from Georgia, who both use their power to save lives and better the planet - well, almost, they actually use it to stick spoons on themselves!
Biba Struja, The Battery Man
Slavisa Pajkic, also known as Biba Struja or Biba Electricity, claims to withstand high voltages without harm. In 2003 he became the quickest man to heat up a cup of water to 206 degrees Fahrenheit by using his body as a heating current, and he did it in just 1 minute and 37 seconds.
One of Pajkic’s tricks is to hold two metal prongs in a sausage and send his electrical charge through them, cooking it. If I could cook sausages with my bare hands, I don’t think I’d get anything done.
Slavisa has claimed that by releasing electricity stored in his body he can perform electrotherapy to cure patients suffering from migraines, sinus, and back problems. He discovered his strange talent when he pulled at a live wire aged 17, the shock should have killed him, but Slavisa didn’t feel a thing.
Now over 60, Slavisa is currently gunning for a world record: to withstanding one million volts. Sparks the imagination, doesn’t it? Slavisa claims he was born without sweat or salivary glands, meaning he lacks the usual amount of moisture on his skin, and thus is less vulnerable to electricity than most humans.
However, there is no doubt Slavisa has his share of skeptics who have attempted to debunk his claims. One theory behind his ability to touch live wires is that he uses a DC battery that produces a low voltage. By powering lines with batteries, anyone could touch those wires and even power a light bulb. Not that you should try any of Slavisa’s stunts at home.
Additionally, it's worth noting that while many have written about Struja’s various records, the official Guinness World Records website lists no observed or documented records he’s achieved.
Dede Koswara, The Tree Man
In 2007, American doctor Anthony Gaspari was in Indonesia to treat a man with one of the strangest conditions he had ever seen: all over the patient’s arms and legs were scaly warts that resembled the bark of a tree. The condition made him unable to work, caused his family to leave him, and isolated him from his community.
The man’s name was Dede Koswara and he suffered from Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia, also known as tree man syndrome. This inherited disorder results in defective cell immunity, which leads to uncontrollable human papillomavirus infections. These infections cause tree-like warts, called cutaneous horns, which have sprouted all over Dede’s body. There is currently no cure for the syndrome and the growths can only be managed through repeated surgeries.
For Dede, the illness took effect around the age of 10 when growths began to appear around a scraped knee. Over the years this condition worsened until his arms and legs no longer looked human. As if that weren’t hard enough, Dede had to deal with abuse from ignorant neighbors that believed he was cursed.
To avoid begging on the streets he had no choice but to join a freak show and assume the moniker the tree man of Java. In 2008 Dr Gaspari successfully removed 13 lbs. of growths from his arms and legs, that’s as nearly as heavy as a bowling ball! The surgery allowed Dede to use his hands and walk but sadly, the warts always regrew.
To complicate matters further Gaspari was forced to leave Dede’s medical team after he was caught taking blood and tissue samples out of Indonesia for commercial uses without permission. Dede lived in hope that there would one day be a cure for his condition, but died in 2016 age 44 due to complications linked to his condition.
In 2019, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina granted another sufferer of the rare malady, Abul Bajander, free treatment for his condition. As of 2019 Abul has had over 25 surgeries to remove the warts. He has regained the use of his hands and is able to hold his children again. Let’s hope his future is bright.
Daniel Browning Smith, World's Most Flexible Man
People keep telling me I need to be more flexible. Well, maybe I should take a page out of Daniel Browning Smith’s book. After all, he’s the most flexible man in the world. Daniel has a rare condition called hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome that causes extreme elasticity in the joints and skin.
HEDS is actually a collection of conditions that affect how collagen functions in the body, collagen being an important protein found in skin and connective tissue. As a child Smith was inspired by contortionists on TV and tried performing his own fantastic feats. He would jump from the top of his bunk bed and land doing the splits to the wonder and terror of his family.
Daniel's flexibility has earned him the stage name rubber boy. He is able to do many incredible things with his body such as turning his torso 180°, dislocating his arms, and legs, and poking his ribs out of his chest. He can even slide through a stringless tennis racquet.
Daniel joined the circus at 18 and since then has achieved seven Guinness World Records. If that weren’t enough Daniel has starred in a super bowl ad, Paranormal Activity 3, performed mo-cap for video games, and hosted his own documentary series on people with extraordinary abilities like himself.
But it’s not all child’s play for the rubber boy. EHS can cause chronic joint pain, easily bruised skin, internal organ problems, and fatigue. Daniel admits that his condition causes him some muscle pain, though asserts it’s only minor.
Tarrare, The Hungriest Man In History
If you’ve ever been accused of having eyes bigger than your stomach, then your name isn’t Tarrare. Born outside the city of Lyon, France in 1772, Tarrare found that he could eat enormous amounts of food without ever feeling full. By the time he was 17, Tarrare could reportedly eat his entire weight in beef in one day.
Despite his gigantic appetite Tarrare somehow never weighed more than 98 lbs. He is said to have smelt so foul that vapor arose from his body, like stink lines in a cartoon. When he was hungry his stomach skin hung loose so that he could wrap it around his waist like a belt. When he was full it inflated like a balloon.
Tarrare found work as a street performer, amazing crowds by eating anything they threw at him. Throughout his life, Tarrare was known to not only eat inedible objects but also live cats, snakes, lizards, puppies, and eels!
While being examined at a hospital Tarrare scavenged the discarded scraps from local butchers, drank the blood of patients, and supposedly ate corpses from the morgue. Things got worse for Tarrare when he was accused of eating a missing child, which was illegal just about everywhere, not just in France.
When he died, some brave doctors decided to dissect the body, which apparently oozed puss the moment it was opened. His liver and gall bladder were unusually large, and his stomach was enormous and coated with ulcers. His esophagus was so wide that when he opened his mouth you could see down into his stomach.
Theories have been put forward as to what condition Tarrare may have had. Here are a few: Polyphagia, a medical term for incessant hunger and extreme eating, is caused by hyperthyroidism that occurs due to the excessive production of thyroid hormones.
An enlarged hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that causes the sensation of hunger and regulates temperature. Or maybe he had a parasite, such as a good old-fashioned hookworm.
Another Frenchman who could eat seemingly inconsumable things was Michel Lotito, born in 1950. Unlike Tarrare, Lotito never ate live animals or kids. Instead, he ate perfectly normal metal and glass, and over the course of several months, an airplane. Nothing quite like French cuisine!
Do you want to be able to text, play guitar or tie shoelaces with only one hand? Then you want polydactylism, a condition that causes someone to be born with extra fingers or toes. The opposite is known as Oligodactyly, with fewer fingers or toes.
Polydactylism is more prevalent than you’d think, with 1 in 700-1000 babies in the world being born with extra fingers.
For example. English actress Gemma Arterton, who you may know from The King’s Man, was born with an extra finger. Like most parents, however, hers elected to have it separated at birth. Some instances, like the 2019 case of an unnamed girl from China, are more extreme. She had two extra thumb-like digits on each hand surgically removed.
Polydactyly has been observed in members of the girl's family going back five generations, but due to financial difficulties, the family was unable to seek medical treatment. As well as removing the additional digits, the medical staff also straightened her thumbs and redirected the bone growth with the help of metal rods. Sounds comfortable, doesn’t it?
There’s little research into people living with the condition, but some studies have shown that additional digits it can be quite advantageous. One Brazilian family who has embraced their condition is the De Silvas from Brasília, Brazil.
Out of 26 members, 14 of the clan have six functional fingers and toes. The larger-handed members of the family feel far from outsiders. In fact, it’s the family members without additional fingers that feel left out.
One son, Joao Assis, claims his extra digits help him goal-keep in football. The only problem he has is adjusting his gloves to fit all his fingers. Maybe we’re watching a future Allison. Or a future Rubix cube master!
If you were amazed at these incredible people born with crazy mutations, you might want to read our article about rare diseases that give people superhero-like abilities! Thanks for reading.