7 of the Weirdest Human Enigmas

Unsolved mysteries of people of unknown origin, fate and astonishing abilities

Burning curtain at home
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MOST KIDS love reading the color funny papers on Sundays. As a kid, one of my favorite strips was "Ripley's Believe It or Not." It always featured some fantastic facts or coincidences. Often it would tell of people with unusual abilities, characteristics, or circumstances: a man with a birthmark in the shape of a perfect heart on his chest; a woman whose head was shaped like a Ming vase; twins with six ears between them.

Stuff like that.

It makes interesting reading and, of course, I'm still fascinated by such amazing tales. Here are 7 of the strangest stories of most mysterious people of unknown origin, fate or astonishing, unexplained abilities.

THE GREEN CHILDREN

In 1887, two small children were found alone near the town of Banjos, Spain. But these were no ordinary children who had been lost or abandoned by parents. They were discovered by field hands who were distracted from their work by frightened cries. Upon investigation, they found a small boy and girl, scared and crying, huddled near the entrance to a cave. Their language was unknown to the workers -- it certainly wasn't Spanish. More mysterious still, they wore clothes made of a strange metallic cloth... and their skin had an odd green tint.

After being taken to the village to be cared for, the boy soon died since it was difficult to get either of them to eat anything.

But the girl survived, and when at last she was able to communicate in Spanish with her caregivers, she told them that she and her brother had come from a place that had no sun, but a land of perpetual twilight. When asked how they came to be at the cave, she said that they had heard a loud bang, were pushed through "something," and then were in the cave.

A MODERN JONAH

The Bible records the account of Jonah who was swallowed by a whale or a great fish, but was later freed from the beast. In 1891, a British sailor lived through the same fate. The seamen aboard the whaling ship The Star of the East struggled to kill a great sperm whale and bring it on board. In the battle between man and beast, two sailors disappeared. But when the whale's stomach and liver were hoisted onto the deck of the ship, it was noticed that something was moving inside the stomach. Cutting open the stomach, the crew found James Bartley, one of the missing men, curled up, unconscious, but still alive.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF BERNARDO VAZQUEZ

Twenty-year-old Bernardo Vazquez was obsessed with the unknown and black magic, as well as getting rich. People who knew him in San Juan, Puerto Rico say he may have succeeded with a bizarre experiment that made him invisible. After consulting his books on the occult, he one day told his mother that he had learned how to become invisible -- through a strange ritual involving a black cat, wood from an old coffin and a tin can. He believed that by boiling the cat and using a resulting bone to place under his tongue he could be invisible at will.

One night be barricaded himself in his room at the back of the house to carry out the ritual. His mother became concerned when he never came out, and she called the authorities. They had to break into his room where they found the disturbing remnants of his ritual -- the burned wood and a disemboweled black cat. But Bernardo was nowhere to be found. Did he indeed become invisible... or did he vanish into the unknown?

Next page: Firestarter and Wolf Girl

FIRESTARTER

Benedetto Supino's astonishing and dangerous abilities came to public attention in the early 1980s, when he was just 10 years old. Benedetto, of Formia, Italy, could set things afire just by staring at them. More often, his power to start fires was involuntary, erupting merely by his presence. The first incident took place in 1982 in a dentist's waiting room. Without cause or warning, the comic book Benedetto was reading suddenly caught fire.

One morning he was awakened by a fire in his own bed -- his pajamas were in flames and the boy suffered severe burns. On another occasion, a small plastic object held in his uncle's hands began to burn as Benedetto stared at it. Just about everywhere he went, furniture, paper, books and other items would start to smolder or burn. Some witnesses even claimed to see his hands glow at these moments.

THE DELPHOS WOLF GIRL

There are many stories of feral children -- children who apparently have been raised in the wild, sometimes by animals and adopting animal-like behavior -- but the story of the wolf girl sighted near Delphos, Kansas in the early 1970s is one of the strangest. Weirder still, it might have a UFO connection.

It began in July 1974 when reports began to come in of the sighting of a wild-looking girl of about 10 to 12 years of age. Witnesses said she had matted yellow hair and wore ragged red clothing.

Upon being sighted, the girl would scamper away like an animal on all fours. During searches for the girl by authorities around the central Kansas town, some people were attacked and scratched by the girl.

The possible UFO connection actually begins two years earlier in 1971 when 16-year-old Ronald Johnson claimed to see a mushroom-shaped UFO land in a wooded area near Delphos.

He further claimed that seeing the UFO had injured his eyes but had also given him psychic powers. It was during this time that he said he encountered a wild, blonde-haired girl who ran away from him on all fours. Was it the same girl... and was there a connection to the UFO?

ZANA, THE APEWOMAN

Zana's story is that of another feral female, but her story is quite different than others. While feral children are wild and animal-like in behavior but always human, Zana actually looked somewhat less than human. Discovered in the mid-1700s in the Russian province of Georgia, Zana, as she was named, had many ape-like features: thick arms, legs, and fingers, and she was covered with hair. Some have speculated that she was a survivor of the Neanderthal race... or perhaps a female Bigfoot... or some human/ape hybrid.

DEFYING GRAVITY AND BELIEF

Daniel Dunglas Home may not be as familiar a name to us today as Harry Houdini, but perhaps he should be. Either he was one of the greatest psychics of the 19th Century, able to demonstrate remarkable (some say paranormal) feats, or he was one of the greatest magicians. At séances he could make heavy tables and chairs (often with people sitting in them) levitate.

Under close observation he could place his hands and face into red-hot coals without harm. He could make himself grow and stretch up to 12 inches taller!

In his most famous demonstration, he is said to have floated out of a window of a four-story building and then appear outside an adjacent window, which he then climbed in, to the astonishment of his audience. Unlike many mediums of his day, Home welcomed scrutiny by scientists and skeptics. None were ever able to prove his feats were tricks or to explain how he accomplished them.

(Also see: "The Incredible Powers of D. D. Home")