The human body is capable of incredible things. We often hear the phrase “we’re only human” when something wrong happens and we want to be forgiven for our shortcomings, but what happens when human beings head to the other end of that spectrum? What happens when the human body bypasses its barriers and breaks the laws of science that hold it down?
That’s when we get people who are gifted with extraordinary abilities. These superhumans live among us, usually in the most average of conditions, but are capable of feats that set them apart from the rest of humankind. The things they are able to accomplish, either mentally or physically, are proof that the human body is more powerful that we can ever imagine. Are their enhanced abilities indicators of an evolutionary process, or are they just one-off anomalies? The concept is fascinating to think about, and while we’ll never know the answer anytime soon, watching these people do what they do is amazing all the same. They may not have comic books like Superman or the X-Men, and they may not be saving the world from supervillains (yet), but they’re amazing nonetheless and deserve to be recognized for their unique superhuman qualities.
15 The Magnet Man – Liew Thow Lin
I’m trying my best to refrain from calling this guy Magneto. Liew Thow Lin, famously known as “Mr. Magnet” or “The Magnet Man”, has the unique ability of sticking metal objects to his body. The objects, weighing up to 2kg each, with a maximum of 36kg in total, seem to stick on Thow Lin’s body as though held there by a magnetic force from inside him.
Thow Lin has performed this amazing feat for charity many times and has gained popularity as some kind of superhuman among the locals. The explanation though, has nothing to do with magnetic fields. Scientists from the University of Technology in Thow Lin’s homeland of Malaysia have concluded that his skin exhibits very high levels of friction, allowing the objects to stick as though held there by a magnetic field. What’s more bizarre is that the trait is genetic, as seen in Thow Lin’s three grandchildren!
14 Superhuman Memory – Daniel Temmat
We’ve seen prodigious savants display incredible mental prowess. They’re often able to solve complex mathematical equations faster than some calculators and are able to recall events that occurred a decade ago as though it were happening in real time. Daniel Tammet, however, is the first person who is actually able to describe what goes on in his mind.
According to Daniel, every whole number up to 10,000 has its own unique characteristics, such as texture, shape, color, and feel. For instance, his mental image of the number 289 is apparently very ugly, whereas the number 333 is attractive, and pi is particularly beautiful. This is how Daniel Tammet, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 25, is able to recall events and numbers with such extreme clarity. To prove this, he recited Pi up to 22,514 digits in five hours and nine minutes in 2004.
13 Eagle Vision – Veronica Seider
We’ve seen characters in movies display feats of “super vision”, often seeing people and objects approaching from a mile away. It’s how archers like Hawkeye and Legolas are able to aim their arrows with such accuracy. But what if I told you a real person has that same incredible ability?
Meet Veronica Seider, the world record holder for the ability to see the tiniest object at the farthest distance without the use of binoculars or any other form of technology. To put that into perspective, she was able to identify people who were standing more than a mile away! Or, 1.6km to be exact. That’s basically 20x better than the average person… or what we like to call "Eagle vision".
12 Sonar Vision – Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood
You know how Daredevil is able to “see” and gauge his surroundings even though he’s technically blind? Like a bat, he’s able to see shapes and objects as sound bounces off them, giving him sonar vision. Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood both possess the same ability, and are able to use echolocation to such a degree that they’re able to “see” using sound even though they’ve both been blind since childhood. Both Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood had their eyes removed early on in life due to cancer. But in a strange turn of events, their sense of sound seemed to have been dialed up to 11. Using a series of clicking noises with their tongue, both Daniel and Ben are able to use echolocation, an ability used by bats and whales, to lead normal lives. In fact, Daniel Kish is so good at it that he’s often hired by other blind people to assist them in getting around.
Sadly, Ben Underwood passed away in 2009 due to a reemergence of the same cancer that cost him his eyes, leaving Daniel Kish as the only known human being in the world who has the ability to use echolocation.
11 The Animal Whisperer – Kevin Richardson
You’ve seen Cesar Milan the dog whisperer, but in all due respect, Kevin Richardson is on a whole other level. Kevin is a South African animal behaviorist who has been accepted into several prides of lions and hyena clans. He basically eats, sleeps, and plays with these animals as if they were his family. Kevin strongly believes in intuition when dealing with these wild animals, instead of basing his actions on rule books. He is known for treating the lions and other animals as sentient beings, often showing them respect and nurturing a sense of family instead of imposing dominance unto them.
But, Kevin warns that the job does have its dangers and advises people not to follow in his footsteps without the proper training and guidance. Much like Chris Pratt’s character imprinting on the newborn Velociraptors in Jurassic World, Kevin Richardson is only social with animals that were with him since they were very young. And even then, he has been scratched, punctured, and injured while handling the animals, although never in a malicious way.
10 Seeing Music – Arthur Lintgen
Most people will find it hard to read and write a second language, especially if it has a different set of alphabets. However, American physician Arthur Lintgen can read the grooves on old phonographs and precisely tell you what music is on it. How’s that for an ability?
Arthur can also look at the grooves and contours on a phonograph and tell if the music is played loud or soft within a matter of seconds. But Arthur Lintgen doesn’t claim any superhuman powers. He makes it very clear that his ability is limited to music by and after Beethoven. When asked to identify an Alice Cooper album, Arthur said it “looked disorganized” and “like gibberish”. Nevertheless, the ability to look at grooves on a record and know what music is about to be played is an amazing talent and is a testament to both Arthur’s memory and the incredible ways one’s brain can decipher information.
9 The Human Computer – Shakuntala Devi
The late great Shakuntala Devi is proof that the human brain is capable of extraordinary feats, like solving extremely complex arithmetical equations faster than some computers. At the University of California Berkley, Shakuntala was asked by Professor Arthur Jensen to calculate the cube root of 61,629,875, and the seventh root of 170,859,375. To the professor’s shock, Shakuntala delivered her answers (395 and 15, respectively) even before Jensen could copy them down in his notebook!
While Shakuntala Devi is known around the world for her immensely powerful brain, she’s also a pioneer in the gay rights movement. In 1977, Shakuntala wrote a book titled The World Of Homosexuals, which was the first official study of homosexuality in India. The book went unnoticed at the time, but has gained popularity recently as the first of its kind.
8 Hyper Photographic Memory – Stephen Wiltshire
If you haven’t seen some of Stephen Wiltshire’s artwork, you need to do so... right after reading this article, because you don’t want to miss the rest of the superhumans we have in store.
Stephen Wiltshire is an autistic artist who can draw intricately detailed aerial landscapes of any city that he flies over. All it takes for Wiltshire is a brief helicopter ride over any city, and his highly developed photographic memory will allow him to recreate the image with jaw-dropping accuracy. For instance, in his panoramic drawing of Rome, he recreated the precise number of columns in the Pantheon!
7 The Iceman – Wim Hof
While the rest of us will have to stock on layers of vests, jackets, and other clothing to keep us warm when trying to climb mountains like Everest or Kilimanjaro, Dutch daredevil Wim Hof did those seemingly daunting tasks wearing nothing but a pair of shorts.
According to Hof, a Buddhist meditation technique called Tummo allows him to regulate his body’s temperature, which in turn allows him to keep warm while enduring freezing conditions. Wim Hof currently holds 21 endurance world records as well as the record for longest ice bath. Take that, David Blaine!
6 The Super Samurai – Isao Machii
Trust me, you don’t want to go toe to toe with this guy. Much like Superman, Japanese Iaido Master Isao Machii can predict the trajectory of an object with such frightening accuracy that he’s able to slice it in half using a sword every… single… time!
To put that into perspective, Isao was able to slice small airsoft pellets that were shot at him at 550ft/s! He currently holds the record of fastest 1000 martial arts sword cuts and the fastest tennis ball cut by a sword.
5 Jaws of Steel – Rathakrishnan Velu
I usually whine to myself about pushing a shopping cart all the way to the parking lot, so I can’t imagine what kind of strength it takes Malaysian-born Rathakrishnan Velu to pull two KTM commuter trains, weighing 260.8 tons (574,964lb) for a distance of 4.2m (13ft 9in) along the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station lines.
Rathakrishnan, now affectionately known as "King Tooth", claims that an Indian guru taught him how to channel all his strength to a specific part of his body when he was 14. I don’t know about you, but I’m very curious to know if this special technique applies to any part of the body… you know, for research purposes.
4 The One Who Never Sleeps – Hai Ngoc
Have you ever tried staying awake for more than 48 hours? I have, and it’s not a pleasant experience. One night of no sleep can send people rushing to the coffee machines and guzzling down cans of Red Bull just to stay awake, but that isn’t the case for Hai Ngoc, the man who hasn’t slept a wink since 1973! According to Ngoc, who is probably Freddy Kruger's worst nightmare, a fever in 1973 caused him to lose the need to sleep indefinitely.
What’s even more incredible is the clean bill of health he was given by doctors, except for a slight decline in liver function which is quite normal for his age. The elderly man even farms and carries two 50kg bags of fertilizer over 4km of road every day. If that doesn’t spell good health, I don’t know what does.
3 Super Endurance – Dean Karnazes
There’s endurance, and then there’s Dean Karnazes’ endurance. Dean’s science team and the people who have tested him claim that if kept fed and well-hydrated, Dean could literally keep running at about 7-10MPH until he died of old age! In other words, Dean’s endurance levels are so high and recharge so quickly that he doesn’t ever have to stop running.
Some of Dean Karnazes’ extraordinary accomplishments include running on a treadmill for 80 hours non-stop (350 miles) and running 50 marathons across 50 states in 50 consecutive days.
2 Stomach of Steel – Michael Lotito
On the list of things you should never ever try at home, replicating Michael Lotito’s appetite for indigestible objects should be right at the top. The French entertainer is known for consuming objects made of metal, glass, rubber, and plastic and doesn’t seem to have any serious intestinal or digestive difficulties afterwards. His greatest feat is probably dismantling and progressively consuming an aircraft over the course of two years.
The secret lies in Michael Lotito’s intestinal walls which happen to be twice as thick as they should be. His stomach acids are also unusually powerful, allowing him to digest these hazardous objects, seemingly without complications. I’m just wondering what the plumbing situation is like in Michael’s house. Does he have to get a professional to unclog the pipes every month because I expect it would be filled with everything and the kitchen sink.
1 The Electric Man – Rajmohan Nair
Electricity is dangerous, everyone knows that. Being exposed to even a tenth of an ampere can be lethal… but not for Rajmohan Nair. Known across the world as "Electro-Mohan" or "Electro-Man", Raj mohan is able to run up to 10 Amps through his body without sustaining any injuries. The only side-effect is the glazing of his eyes, which renders him blind for a few minutes, but that’s about it.
Rajmohan’s discovery of his shocking (pun definitely intended) ability is tragic. After losing his mother at age 7, a grief-stricken Rajmohan tried to end his life by climbing an electric pole. To his surprise, nothing happened when he grabbed one of the exposed wires, which is when he realized he had an amazing ability. No disrespect whatsoever, but that’s a superhero origin story if there ever really was one! When tested using a multimeter, it was found that Rajmohan Nair’s body is 10x more resistant to electricity than that of a normal human being, which is what allows him to run electric currents through his body, normally via his tongue for added conductivity, to power lightbulbs and other electrical appliances.