The 50 best record-breakers

As the legendary book of Guinness World Records celebrates its 50th birthday, we present...
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The Independent Online

YOUNGEST SOLDIER: Brazilian Luís Alves de Lima e Silva joined the infantry aged five in 1808.

YOUNGEST SOLDIER: Brazilian Luís Alves de Lima e Silva joined the infantry aged five in 1808.

LONGEST SURVIVING HEADLESS CHICKEN: From September 1945 a chicken called Mike survived for 18 months. He was fed with an eye dropper but choked to death on a corn kernel.

LONGEST CHAMPAGNE CORK FLIGHT: American Heinrich Medicus ejected a cork 54.18m (177ft 9in) in New York in 1988.

FASTEST HEARTBEAT: The shrew has a heart rate of 1,200 beats per minute.

OLDEST WOMAN: Jeanne Louise Calment made it to 122 years 164 days on 4 August 1997.

WORLD'S FASTEST FERRET: Warhol clocked 10m (32ft) in 12.59 seconds at the 1999 North of England Ferret Racing event.

FIRST MANNED SPACEFLIGHT: Yuri Gagarin, on 12 April 1961.


German Rudi Horn in 1952 threw six cups and saucers with his feet and balanced them on his head while mounted on a unicycle.

GREATEST SEA RESCUE: In 1942, 2,735 people were saved from the USS Lexington after it sank in the Pacific.

HIGHEST FEE PER MINUTE FOR AN ACTOR IN A TV AD: Nicole Kidman, right, earned $3.71m (£2m) for a four-minute commercial for Chanel No 5 in 2003 - $928,800 per minute.

LONGEST WORKING LIFE: Shigechiyo Izumi, from Japan, worked 98 years. He retired as a sugar cane farmer in 1970, aged 105.

FASTEST TIME TO SCORE A HAT-TRICK: Tommy Ross scored three goals in 90 seconds for Ross County against Nairn County at Dingwall, Ross-shire, in 1964.

LARGEST NUDE PHOTO SHOOT: In 2003 7,000 volunteers posed in Barcelona (above) for the photographer Spencer Tunick.

KEENEST BIRD VISION: A peregrine falcon can spot a pigeon at a range of over 5 miles.

HIGHEST MURDER RATE: Colombia has 65 murders per 100,000 people per year.

DEAREST OLD MASTER: Rubens' The Massacre of the Innocents was sold at Sotheby's, London for £49.5m in 2002.

GREATEST EGG-DROPPING HEIGHT: England's David Donoghue dropped eggs 213m (700ft) from a helicopter in 1994 - and some survived.

LONGEST MARRIAGE: Wesley and Stella McGowen, married since 6 February 1920 - almost 85 years.

EARLIEST USE OF SMALLPOX AS A WEAPON: British soldiers in the Wars of 1754-1767 distributed smallpox-impregnated blankets to native Americans.

BIGGEST CONFERENCE CALL: On 29 September 2003, 3,466 shared the line with presidential challenger Howard Dean.

TOP-SCORING AIR ACE IN SECOND WORLD WAR: German Major Erich Hartmann shot down 352 aircraft, including 13 planes in 17 minutes during one 1943 sortie.

MOST VOTES FOR A CHIMP IN A CAMPAIGN: In the 1988 mayoral elections in Rio, Tiáo came third, taking 400,000 votes.

BIGGEST EYE: An Atlantic giant squid found in Canada in 1878 had eyes 40cm (15.75in) across.

FASTEST TIME TO DRINK TWO PINTS OF STOUT: Canadian Scott Williams downed two pints of Guinness in 6.3 seconds in 2003.

LONGEST TRAFFIC JAM: A jam stretched 109 miles from Lyon towards Paris in February 1980.

LONGEST TIME TRAPPED IN A LIFT: Cypriot Kively Papajohn, 76, was trapped for 6 days in 1987.

HIGHEST-PAID FILM ACTOR: Bruce Willis received $100m (£62m) for The Sixth Sense.

OLDEST LIVING TREE: A bristlecone pine in the USA's White Mountains, called Methuselah, is 4,733 years old.

LONGEST DAY: As Earth's rotation slows by 0.02 seconds per century, the longest day is today.

BIGGEST CAT LITTER: In 1970 a Burmese/Siamese cross cat owned by Brit V Gane gave birth to 19 kittens, although 4 were stillborn.

FASTEST TIME TO TYPE ONE TO ONE MILLION: Australia Les Stewart typed one to one million, in words, between 1982 and '88.

BIGGEST ANIMAL BRAIN: The brain of the sperm whale weighs roughly 9kg (19lb 13oz).

HIGHEST BUNGEE JUMP: Kiwi Chris Allum jumped 251m (823ft) from the New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia, in 1992.

FASTEST ROLLER COASTER: The Top Thrill Dragster, below, at Cedar Point, Ohio, clocks 120mph.

LONGEST POLE-SITTING: The monk St Simeon the Stylite (circa AD 386-459) spent about 39 years on a stone pillar near Aleppo, Syria. It is the longest-standing record in the book of Guinness World Records.

BIGGEST FLOP: Cutthroat Island (1995) cost more than $100m (£62m). It earned back $11m (11 per cent).

LOWEST TEMPERATURE IN AN INHABITED AREA: The Siberian village of Oymyakon reached -68C (-90F) in 1933.

MOST BASKETBALLS SPUN: American Michael Kettman span 28 balls simultaneously in 1999.

MOST VALUABLE LETTER: A letter written by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 sold for $748,000 (£418,000) in 1991 in New York.

TALLEST MAN: America's Robert Wadlow, right, stood at 2.72m (8ft 11.1in) in 1940.

FURTHEST VISIBLE OBJECT: The spiral Triangulum galaxy can be seen 2.53 million light years away.

LARGEST PANTS: The largest cotton underwear, 9.54m (31ft 4in) wide and 4.9m (16ft) tall, were unveiled in Exeter in 2003.

HIGHEST ANNUAL RAINFALL: Mawsynram, in eastern India, has 11,873mm (4,678in) per annum.


Involved 2,473 people at Triel, Switzerland, in January 2003.

BIGGEST SPIDER: A male goliath bird-eating spider, above, found in Venezuela in 1965 had a legspan of 28cm (11in).

HOTTEST PLANET: Venus has an average of 480C (896F).

MOST RETAKES FOR ONE SCENE: Stanley Kubrick demanded 127 retakes for a scene with Shelley Duval in The Shining.

FASTEST BAKED BEAN EATER: Briton Andy Szerbini ate 226 baked beans in five minutes using a cocktail stick in London in 1996.

BIGGEST CONDOM: A 21.94m (72ft) condom was fitted over the obelisk at Place de la Concorde in Paris in 1993.

MOST CURRENT GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: Ashrita Furman of New York, who holds 20 official records including milk-bottle balancing, skipping, forward rolling and glass balancing.