Craziest real-life superpowers – from bloke who never ate to ‘dolphin boy’

While we’re all waiting for someone with the power to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, the producers of Killing Eve have cooked up another must-see telly show in the shape of new Disney+ series Extraordinary.

Streaming from January 25, the show is set in a world where everyone develops a superpower when they turn 18 – apart from Jen.

Adrift in a big, confusing world and armed with nothing but a bit of hope and a lot of desperation, Jen begins her journey to find her maybe-superpower; in doing so, she might discover the joy of being just kind of ok.

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But incredible abilities exist outside fiction too. In fact, history has plenty of people who have been shown to hold real-life superpowers…

Kim Peek

The inspiration for the movie Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman in the lead role and Tom Cruise as his estranged brother, Utah-born Kim known as a “mega savant”.

He was diagnosed as autistic but is now thought to have had rare genetic syndrome FG. Kim had a photographic memory that saw him learn to read and memorise content from between 16-20 months.

While his fine motor skills delay meant he couldn’t button up a shirt as he grew older it was established Kim could scan a page on the left with his left eye while reading the right page with his right eye at the same time, leading to him being able to recite the content of around 12,000 books.

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Prahland Jani

Who needs food and water when you have the protection of Hindu goddess Amba? Not this Indian breatharian monk, who claimed to have stopped eating and drinking in 1940 and died in 2020 at the ripe old age of 90.

Studies found the hermit, who lived in a cave, was able to create urine in his bladder despite being under observation with no liquids or food for 10 days, something he put down to his connection with the spirit of strength.

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Wim Hof

So impressed are his talents that the Dutch extreme athlete landed his own TV show with Holly Willoughby last year.

However none of the celebs taking part could match his ability to sustain his own body temperature in freezing climates.

Hiking up Mount Everest in nothing more than a pair of shorts earned Wim the nickname The Iceman and his Wim Hof Method has seen the 63-year-old turn motivator speaker encouraging other mere mortals to use breathing techniques to tackle diseases.

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Ben Underwood

While he had his eye removed at the age of three following a retinal cancer diagnosis that didn’t stop this American becoming a whizz at playing footie, skateboarding, and riding a bike.

He taught himself to live like a dolphin using echolocation from the age of five to figure out the distance of things using clicking tongue noises and listening to how the sound bounced off objects to navigate his way around.

Dubbed “one of the most proficient human echolocators’ ‘, Ben sadly died a week before turning 17 in 2009 when his cancer returned.

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Stephen Wiltshire MBE

British architect Stephen is an autistic savant with an incredible talent for drawing a landscape from memory on his first sight. The Londoner didn’t speak until the age of five – but his first words of paper and pen were a sign of what was to come.

The 48-year-old’s photographic memory saw him once recall the exact number of columns in Rome’s Pantheon for a drawing. In 2006 he was presented with an MBE for his services to art.

Alain Robert

Dubbed “the French Spider-Man” this 60-year old can hurtle his way up skyscrapers as niftily as Tom Holland does on the big screen – but without the need for special effects.

Minus any safety equipment he’s found his way up the side of buildings including the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building. But he was caught in a web of mischief after being arrested for clambering up London’s 662 ft tall Heron Tower in 2018.


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