Freak Humans Are Dying All Over the Place

Yao Defend next to a normal-size bike, and Besse Cooper. Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters/Corbis, David Goldman/AP/Corbis

If you’re the world’s smallest woman or the world’s hairiest teenager (do not click that), you’re a little nervous today, because both the world’s oldest person and the world’s tallest woman have died. (Technically the world’s tallest woman died on November 13, but we’re only hearing about it today, so just go with it.) It would almost be cause for alarm, except these are two people whose deaths, unfortunately, are not all that surprising. Besse Cooper of Georgia was 116 years old, so she really should have died a few decades ago. Yao Defen of China was only seven-foot-seven because of a tumor on her pituitary gland.

We don’t know who the new tallest woman is, but Iowan Dina Manfredini, who was born in Italy in 1897 and is now 115 years and 244 days old, has already been crowned the new World’s Oldest Person. So what’s her secret to longevity? “You know, she worked all her life,” her octogenarian daughter told the local news in April, “and she did everything in moderation.” Dying young it is, then.

World’s Oldest Person, Tallest Woman Both Die