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.

MOST TEACUPS CAUGHT ON THE HEAD WHILE UNICYCLING

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.

BIGGEST SNOWBALL FIGHT

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.

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