Nothing captures our imaginations quite like a survival story, and as someone who, just last week screamed "I welcome death with open arms!" because the bagel place by my house ran out of my favorite cream cheese, I am fascinated by tales of people who stared their own mortality in the face, and somehow persevered against all odds.
We've all imagined how we would fare in a disaster situation. Would you be the hero, the one who pulls others to safety, and whose top unbuttons in a rugged, yet sexy way? Or would you be the coward, the one who tries to save their own ass and then ends up dying anyway? We wonder whether we know enough — we studied rope-typing in Girl Scouts and can kind of make a fire with sticks, and we've watched that Jake Gyllenhaal episode of Man Vs. Wild, but can you tell which berries are safe and which will kill you instantly? I once ate a ping pong ball-sized thing of wasabi because I wasn't paying attention, so I'd make it approximately 30 seconds in the Great Outdoors.
As these stories reveal though, the real factors for survival are more numerous and more abstract than being able to fashion a compass with sticks and some gum. You need perseverance, luck, and above all, the willingness to eat weird things.
Here are some amazing tales of people who shouldn't have survived, but did.