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Did You Inherit Any of These Mutations?

Do you like the taste of cilantro, or is eating it like washing your mouth out with soap? Can you not wake up in the morning without a cup of coffee, or do you prefer tea? Does looking at the sun make you squint, or sneeze?

As it turns out, all of those things are influenced by your genes. Passed down through your family, your genes are part of what makes you who you are, and are responsible for a lot of differences between humans. Mutations have caused changes in humans as mundane as creating new eye colors - if your eyes aren’t brown, you’re a mutant! These mutations are also passed down through families, which is why if your mother and father both had red hair, you probably do too.

Those probably won’t qualify you for joining the X-men. There are some mutations, though, which are rarer and produce some very abnormal (and sometimes very useful) traits! Let’s talk about some about some of the most interesting mutations we’ve discovered:

Literally Unbreakable

Do you have relatives with osteoporosis? That might be because of one of their genes (LRP5) made their bone less dense. So what happens when that gene mutates? You become Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, with bones that are so dense they appear almost impossible to break. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how much these mutants can handle, but based on the examination of one Connecticut family, scientists think it’s quite possible that they could, for example, be in a train crash and walk away without a single broken bone.
Liz Taylor

Liz Taylor’s Mutant Eyelashes

Actress Elizabeth Taylor is famous for her beautiful eyes, which are a gorgeous blue highlighted by the thick eyelashes framing them. Well, it wasn’t just the mascara that made Liz’s eyes pop - it was also a genetic mutation called distichiae that gave her two rows of eyelashes!

While this does have cosmetic advantages, there are drawbacks. For example, having an eyelash fall into your eye is really irritating, and people with distichiae have twice the eyelashes to fall into their eyes!

The Six-Fingered Man

Children are often taught how to count to ten by using their fingers. But what if you don’t have ten fingers? Some people have the gene that makes them be born with extras (AKA being polydactyly). They can be removed via surgery, but many people don’t feel the need, especially if it doesn’t get in the way of what you’re doing.

A famous example is major league baseball pitcher Antonio Alfonseca. He was born with twelve fingers and twelve toes, so when he told people he wanted to play baseball they were skeptical of his ability to throw. He started playing baseball anyways, developed a throw of 90 miles per hour, and went on to play for teams like the Florida Marlins and Texas Rangers.

The Battery Man

Slavisa Pajkic, AKA “The Battery Man”, doesn’t produce sweat or saliva. That means he doesn’t have the thin layer of water on his skin that most people do, so he is resistant to electricity. In 1983, Pajkic entered the Guinness Book of World Records for taking 20,000 volts without so much as a scratch. We recommend you don’t try to beat him: The electric chair is around 2,000 volts, which is only 10% of what Pajkic handled. He’s made several YouTube videos showcasing his ability.

The Ozzy Osbourne Gene?

Ozzy Osbourne was curious about how he was as healthy as he was. Based on the amount of substances he took, to quote him, “There's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why.” And his DNA certainly had a lot to say.

Scientists were hoping they’d find one specific “Ozzy Osbourne gene” that explained how he survived his partying, like something that made his liver more efficient. Instead, they found that several genes they already knew about had never-before-seen mutations. And by that, we literally mean that those variations had never been observed before by scientists, and as far as they knew Ozzy was the only person who had the variants. The test was done in 2010, meaning many of these have variants have since been found in other people, but at the time Osbourne had about 300,000 novel variants.

For example, the ADH4 gene determines how well you process alcohol. Ozzy’s variation appears to make him metabolize more quickly, letting him drink more than a normal person, which supports Ozzy’s claims that he used to drink four bottles of cognac a day. However, I think Dr. Nathan Pearson’s conversation with Ozzy about the results provides the best explanation:

“Mr. Osbourne, after studying your history, taking your blood, extracting your genes from the white cells, making them readable, sequencing them, analysing and interpreting the data using some of the most advanced technology available in the world today–and of course comparing your DNA against all the current research in the US National Library of Medicine, not to mention the 18th revision of the public human reference genome–I think I can say with a good deal of confidence why you’re still alive.”

I looked at him. He looked at me.

“Go on, then,” I said. “Spit it out.”

“Sharon,” he replied.

Blue Bloods

Ever felt blue? Well, people with congenital methemoglobinemia take the phrase “feeling blue” to a literal extreme, as their skin literally appears blue! The very simplified explanation of what happens is that a mutation causes their blood to have less hemoglobin, resulting in their bodies getting less oxygen. Just as holding your breath for a long time makes you go blue in the face, this mutation makes people go blue everywhere.

This sounds problematic (and it can be), but people with this mutation often go on to live totally normal and healthy lives. The most famous example are members of the Fugate family based out of Kentucky, who are known around town as the “blue people” and don’t have any obvious health issues caused by lacking oxygen.

The more we learn about genetics, the more we learn how they influence our lives. From blue eyes to blue skin, all sorts of things are passed down through the generations. So why not pass down your knowledge with Popopmomom? Record the story of your life and share your genes and your wisdom with your family. Download the app on the App or Play Store, or learn more at LivingLink.Family.

Wondering where we got those facts? Email us at and we'll send you our citations.



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