Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2004 Darwin Awards

Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Stepping Out
2004 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(12 April 2004, Netherlands) Certain land animals have evolved over the millennia to use speed in the pursuit of prey or avoidance of predators. The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) can run as fast as 60 mph over the plains of Africa, and the pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) can reach 55 mph over the plains of North America. Humans (Homo sapiens) are not among these animals built for speed. The very fastest human can achieve a maximum sprint of 16 mph for short distances.

So things were bound to go wrong when a 19-year-old male, driving the A67 highway near the Dutch town of Blerick, sought to impress his two passengers by putting his car on cruise control at 20 mph, getting out of the car, and running alongside it. He planned to jump back in and drive on, but the moment his feet hit the ground, he fell over and slammed headfirst into the asphalt. He was admitted to the hospital with severe brain damage, and died the next day.

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Submitted by: Jurriaan Knol , Wieger
Reference: Telegraaf, Dutch Teletext, Guinness Book of World Records

Reader Jacob says, "Your statement that a human can achieve a maximum sprint of 16 mph for short distances, is incorrect. According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the fastest 100m dash time is less than 10 seconds, resulting in an average speed of 23 mph from a dead stop."

Reader Aaron says, "The current world record for a 100m sprint is 9.77 seconds, for an average of 22.9 miles/hour, so his top speed must have been higher. I believe that Ignisious Gaisah achieved a top speed of 45km/h (28mph). Also, many people are able to 'run' on a treadmill while holding a support bar at speeds greater than 20 miles per hour. It seems that this Darwin Winner's stupidity was not in the speed but in the fact that he was simply uncoordinated. Is uncoordination really a lack of common sense?"

Reader Will points out pettishly, "it isn't the fact that someone can run over twenty miles and hour, it is the fact that all of a sudden your legs have to go from zero to 20 instantly. "

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