What’s the most interesting part of your body? Is it your ability to raise a single eyebrow — or perhaps you can move both your ears? That’s cool but not as impressive as the extremely rare features a teeny-tiny portion of the human population is born with. Let’s get to it! Here are 30 rare features in humans.
Bones of Steel
First up, let me tell you about a man who had bones eight times thicker and harder to break compared to a normal human being. They were so tough that he didn’t have any severe injuries after a car crash in 1994. The answer? Apparently, he and his family had a very rare gene mutation called LRP5, which leads to considerable changes in bone mass.
Although it can also mutate to create very weak bones, he was lucky to be blessed with extremely hard ones.
If you see a protruding part in your ear that slightly makes you look like an elf, then you’ve got this congenital ear condition called Darwin’s tubercle.
This rare feature in humans proves humankind’s ancestry with primates who also had these ears. And for some reason, 10% of the Spanish adult population have this feature.
Another rare feature in humans found on the ear is this tiny little hole known as a preauricular sinus.
Less than 1% of the western population has this inherited birth defect, but it’s more common elsewhere around the world as 4-10% of Asians and Africans have it.
If you ever get lost and need to get a lift from a stranger, you should have what’s called the Hitchhiker’s thumb. This condition allows you to bend your upper thumb up to 90 degrees in the opposite direction.
It is great if you want drivers to see just how desperate you are for that free ride.
Missing Long Palmar Muscle
There are also rare features in humans characterized by the absence of a normal body part. For example, some people don’t have the long palmar muscle, which is the tendon that appears in the midline of the wrist when you tense your hand, fingers, and wrist.
About 14% of people do not have this body part.
Single Transverse Palmar Crease
Here’s a quick fact: Did you know that palmar refers to the palm of your hand? Now, look at your palmar. If you see just a single crease across your palm — you’re in luck!
Only 1.5% of people have single transverse palmar crease in at least one hand. Men are twice as likely to develop this, and it’s hereditary.
Everyone has a unique fingerprint — it’s why devices now have fingerprint scanners for added security. But some patterns are rarer than others! 65% of people have a loop pattern.
30% have whorls.
So, what about the remaining 5%? They have an arch or tented arch fingerprint, how cool is that!?
You’ve heard of royal blood, but what about golden blood? This actually exists, and it’s formally known as Rhnull.
It doesn’t actually appear gold, but it got its name just due to its rarity. It’s the rarest blood type in the world, which is so special because it functions as universal blood for people with rare blood types. There are a million variations in blood types, but golden blood? Only 43 people are known to have it — and there are only 9 active donors.
Ever had a gap between your teeth? The gap is called a diastema.
It’s pretty common, but it gets more unusual as people grow older. Nearly 20% of kids aged between 8-11 have this gap, but this drastically goes down to a mere 5% for people from 18-50 years of age. You might find it awful, but people in Ghana and Nigeria see it as a sign of fertility and attractiveness.
Autosomal Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst
Do you often sneeze? Everyone does, but not for the same reasons. Some have a condition known as photic sneeze reflex or autosomal compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst. In short… ACHOO.
About 18% of the US population is said to have this. Simply looking at sunlight or any bright light causes them to sneeze. A single sneeze is fine, but with this condition, you may end up sneezing 10 times!
Now let’s focus on feet. Usually, the big toe is just that — big. But if the second toe is bigger, you’ve got Morton’s toe.
In some populations, only 2.95% of people have it. Morton’s toe can lead to calluses, and you’re gonna have a bad time wearing shoes that don’t pack enough space for the big second toe. But on the bright side, some believe it’s a sign of intelligence; noting that royal families in Ancient Egypt had it as well.
In the Bible, it’s said that women were created from a man’s rib. But did you know that it’s women who are more likely than men to have extra ribs? These are called cervical or neck ribs.
They can appear on either or both sides, and only 0.2 to 0.5% of the population has one. An extra rib doesn’t usually pose any problems, but they can cause pain if particularly big or wide ones put pressure on your nerves.
People say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are eyes that can make even the most mundane things beautiful. Tetrachromacy is a condition wherein people can see in a four-dimensional manner using four cone cells instead of the usual three.
It’s believed that 2-3% of women have this. In a seemingly ordinary grey pebble, these so-called tetrachromats can see shades of yellow, green, and blue.
For an easily observable eye feature, there’s always heterochromia — having two different-colored eyes.
Only 1% of people have this condition, and there are several factors that can lead to it: your family’s genes, Horner syndrome, trauma during birth, and genetic chimerism. And no, chimerism in humans doesn’t give anyone wings or lion teeth. Just very pretty eyes resulting from the DNA of an underdeveloped twin.
You don’t have to have two different colored eyes to look unusual. Ocular albinism is a genetic condition wherein the color of your iris loses pigmentation.
Only 1 in 50,000 people have it. Your eyes will certainly make you look like you have supernatural powers, but the lack of pigmentation means you’ll also have impaired eye vision.
Albinism doesn’t just affect the eyes — your skin and the hair can also be deficient of color or pigmentation.
On average, one in every 20,000 develops a form of albinism. It doesn’t affect their lifespan, but they must be careful outside since they’ll have very sensitive skin and eyes.
There’s another similar skin condition called vitiligo. Unlike albinism, it doesn’t lead to the total absence of color. Instead, you’ll have white patches of skin.
There’s no direct harm to having vitiligo, but people with it can feel depressed or stigmatized because of how others perceive them. After all, only 0.4 to 2% of the population have this condition.
Similarly, there’s also piebaldism, characterized by a white patch of skin along with a white section of hair.
This skin color is the result of an absence of melanocyte cells that produce melanin. About 90% of people with piebaldism develop it at the hairline. Its prevalence is unknown, but anyone with piebaldism shouldn’t be in the sun for too long.
Speaking of hair, werewolf syndrome or hypertrichosis refers to excessive hair growth, and is incredibly rare, with only around 100 documented cases worldwide.
Some people with this condition are already born with a lot of hair while others develop it as they grow older. Women and children may develop an exclusive form of this condition, known as Hirsutism.
This is much more common though, as it affects 7% of women and children from all ethnic groups.
Believe it or not, some people function properly even with just four hours of sleep a day. .. no caffeine boosts required.
These ‘short sleepers’ have a certain type of DEC2 gene variation– that’s the gene involved with circadian clock regulation. Scientists still don’t know how many people have this variation, but I’m sure everyone wishes they had this.
Here’s another condition you wouldn’t mind having. The PCSK9 gene is a protein that erases your worries about high levels of bad cholesterol. In other words, you can pretty much eat whatever you want.
The gene is so valuable that scientists have been testing PCSK9 inhibitors to try and provide everyone with an affordable way to control their cholesterol levels. For now, however, PCSK9 medication will cost you about $14,000 annually.
The SERPINE1 gene is also a food-related rare condition. Researchers found out that Amish people who had this gene were less likely to develop diabetes — which is another way of saying they could eat all the sweets they wanted.
Plus, those with the gene were likely to live seven years longer.
If HIV is your primary concern, you might want to look into the CCR5 gene. Specifically, people who don’t have this gene are highly resistant to HIV.
Why? Because HIV uses this gene to enter and spread in the human body. Researchers noted that about 10% of Caucasians are naturally immune to HIV, and the CCR mutation might have something to do with it.
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder
Not having the CCR5 gene is great, but this next feature isn’t. One in 200,000- 1 million live births come with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder or SCID. These people basically have no functioning immune system. The condition is also known as bubble baby disease since victims are often confined to living in sterile environments.
If no treatment is provided for simple things like ear infections, babies could die within a year.
Uner Tan Syndrome
People usually walk with their two feet. But people with the Uner Tan syndrome walk on all fours. A Turkish biologist documented a family of 19 and found that five members moved in an unusual manner.
The prevalence of this proposed syndrome is unknown, but it’s believed that insufficient cognitive development is what makes them walk on all fours — apart from having primitive speech.
Now let’s focus on unusual growth. First up, Marfan syndrome, which is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue that causes people to develop tall, flexible, and very thin body parts.
Some people liken those suffering from this disease to the urban legend, Slender Man, and to be fair, it’s not hard to see why. This genetic disorder affects between 5,000 and 10,000 people but Sadly, as of now, there’s no cure for Marfan syndrome.
Another disorder causing abnormal growth is Proteus Syndrome, which occurs when some of your bones and tissues become overdeveloped. Only a couple hundred cases have been identified in medical history. It’s so rare that it has an incidence rate of less than 1 for every million people. One such person with the syndrome is Mandy Sellars.
Her legs and feet grow at a disproportionate rate and currently weight well over twice the weight of the rest of her body.
Split Hand Malformation
Now onto a condition that affects the hands. Split hand malformation, or ectrodactyly, is a disorder that affects a person’s hands or feet, in such a way that they are missing one or more digits.
In extreme cases, some people with this condition may have only two fingers on each hand.
One in 10,000 to 90,000 births will have an incidence of split hand. Treatment involves surgery, but it’s even more important to prevent victims from feeling socially isolated and stigmatized.
Tree Man Syndrome
Similar to ectrodactyly, but just as nasty, is Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis. Some people call this disorder ‘tree man syndrome ’, as it causes wart-like lesions that may occur anywhere on the body.
These lesions are caused by infections with HPV – a virus that affects the skin. Though you may secretly want to be like Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, it can’t be fun to have this condition. Apart from damaging their psychological well-being, their wart-like lesions may also transform into skin cancers.
Finally, here’s a case of thumb hypoplasia — an abnormality in the growth of the thumb that affects one in 100,000 people. Reddit user Breapop captured this photo of her two thumbs.
The difference? Her right thumb cannot bend. Apparently, that thumb of hers is only comprised of a single, solid bone. Apart from being unable to bend, she also can’t make a fist sign with it.
So, do you have any of the rare features in humans mentioned in this article, and which ones would you most and least like to have? Let me know in the comments section down below! Thanks for reading.