The Darwin Awards’ tagline is “salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who remove themselves in a spectacular manner.” The tongue-in-cheek reasoning is that if you believe “survival of the fittest” in a literal sense, then people who cause their own deaths by spectacular means aren’t “fit” to survive. Therefore, they improve the health of the species by not reproducing. The awards began back in 1993 at Stanford University as a component of a biological research project. These are some of the most bizarre awards issued over the past 27 years.
Smokin’ Hot Sauce, 2012. A North Carolina set himself on fire through a series of questionable decisions. First, he drank an unknown liquid from a salsa jar on his friend’s kitchen counter. The liquid turned out to be gasoline. His friend, a mechanic, used it to clean his hands after work. Later, the man in question lit a cigarette which then ignited the remaining gasoline on and in his body. (x)
Beer for Bears, 2007. During a yearly beer fest in Serbia, zoo keepers discovered the remains of a 23-year-old man in the enclosure belonging to two bears; Misha and Masha. Also in the enclosure were beer cans, cell phones, and a pile of clothes. The clothes were untouched, leading investigators to believe the man disrobed of his own volition before the bears attacked. (x)
Crystal Daze, 2001. The Naica Mine, in Chihuahua, Mexico contains the Cave of the Crystals amongst other wonders. Larger-than-life selenite crystals fill the cave. They’re some of the largest ever found. Local legend curses anyone who tries to plunder the cave for treasure. One man created his own curse by standing beneath a crystal while sawing it free from the cave wall. The trapped man soon succumbed to the oppressive cave temperature that can reach 136 ?. (x)
Antlers Ahoy, 1985. A pair of men attempted illegal smuggling of elk antlers out of Yellowstone Park to sell. During the eighties, antlers were worth up to $7/lb. Each antler could weigh as much as 30 pounds. Because of ranger stations on the roads, the men chose the Gardiner river to exit the National Park, instead of driving. Their boat was an inflatable rubber raft. As soon as they hit a section of rapids on the river, the antlers punctured the rubber raft, sinking them. One man swam to shore and survived, the other drowned, earning his Darwin Award.
Killer Whalebone, 1816. One of the lesser-known founding fathers, Gouveneur Morris, was an intelligent man who wrote the preamble to the constitution. He’s responsible for those infamous words “We the People of the United States…”. An interesting man for several reasons (like he had a peg leg), one of which is his Darwin Award worthy cause of death. Attempting to remove an obstruction in his urethra, Morris inserted part of a whalebone into his penis. Ultimately, the act caused severe infection and inflammation that later killed him. (x)