The Superhero Issue

Beyond X-Men: 6 examples of real-life mutants

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Professor Xavier, Wolverine, and Rogue are not like you and me.

Instead, they are X-Men: Mutants with an "enhanced genome" and incredible abilities.

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X-men mutations are (depending on what version of their story you're reading or watching) caused by the X-gene in the mutant's DNA. Their mutant genes are what set them apart from Homo sapiens and make them Homo superiors.

☝️As Wolverine might say:

It's true. Everyone carries, on average, between 100 and 200 mutations in their DNA.

Most of these mutations don't manifest themselves. But mutations can be neutral, beneficial, or harmful.

A mutation is a change in DNA, and gene mutations can be classified in two ways >>

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Hereditary mutations: These are inherited from a parent and are present in cells throughout an organism's life.

Acquired (or somatic) mutations: These may be caused by environmental factors, are present in certain cells and may occur at some point in an organism's life.

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Somatic mutations are usually not passed on to offspring. Hereditary mutations can, which is why they are thought to contribute to evolution. If a mutation introduces an advantageous trait, then it's likely to be passed on to future generations.

Here are 6 examples of real-life mutants

Their mutations are a mix of hereditary and somatic.

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Hairless cats

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The nearly hairless Sphynx cat emerged as a result of a mutation that originated in 1966. This mutation affects the gene Keratin 71 and is recessive to a normal coat.

Today breeders test their cats for the mutation to ensure it will be passed on.

The Ruby Red grapefruit

Ruby red grapefruits, like thousands of other crop varieties, are created through mutation breeding. The first was a natural mutant, found by farmers in 1929, but its flesh didn't stay red. Today, to make this vibrant fruit, scientists induce mutations with atomic radiation.

Human lactose tolerance

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Most people are lactose intolerant, unable to digest lactose, the primary sugar in milk. This is because their lactase gene is switched off as they age. The ability to drink milk into adulthood evolved in some societies because of mutations that keep that gene switched on.

Blue eyes

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Scientists claim all blue-eyed people are linked to the same ancestor. This individual lived between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago and had a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene.

Domesticated dogs

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While there are a number of mutations that relate to dogs, the rosiest has to do with their "hyper-sociability." A 2017 study found genetic mutations explain why dogs are so friendly, and seek out attention.

Short sleepers

The average person needs seven hours of sleep, but some people only need four to six hours. These natural short sleepers are mutants: In 2019, scientists discovered they have a mutation in the gene ADRB1. Families of short sleepers carry this mutation.

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