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Reading the Ultimate X-men #15 I see that Xavier claims that "98% of all known mutants test positive for the X-FACTOR gene". Isn't the X-FACTOR gene what makes a mutant or does this simply include mutates (genetically altered individuals who wasn't born a mutant) too? Either way I think that it just sounds wrong.

If it does not include mutates then I guess there would be some other factor who defines a mutant. The only reasonably explaination, I can come up with, then would be that there are so few mutants out there that Wolverine, and the other "original" Weapon X mutates, counts as mutants but do not exhibit the X-FACTOR gene and is roughly 2% of all mutants.

If this includes mutates (such as Spider-man) 98% sounds pretty high.

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When Xavier is talking about the number of mutants who test positive, he is implying that nearly all mutants who are tested, show signs of the X-factor genetic markers determined to cause active mutations. This number he estimates at 98%.

  • This implies the X-factor has been corroborated as the primary source of mutant powers in those people who are tested. Since he cannot have tested every mutant, he is basing this upon his source data of which he would probably have had the largest test pool outside of SHIELD.

  • It also implies there are mutants, who for unknown reasons, may either exhibit powers without testing positive, or have the gene and do not exhibit special abilities. This is the 2% he is talking about. Mutants whose abilities activate before or after puberty may be mistaken for mutates or have a significant variation in their genomic structure which caused the deviation from the norm.

  • Xavier does not include mutates in his genetic mapping because even though their powers are derived from the same source of genetic tampering (the Celestials), mutates require an external event to activate their powers whereas most mutants will activate their powers when they reach puberty.

Wikipedia's Mutant Entry:

  • In comic books published by Marvel Comics, a mutant is an organism (usually otherwise human) who possesses a genetic trait called an X-gene that allows the mutant to naturally develop superhuman powers and abilities. Human mutants are considered to be of the subspecies Homo sapiens superior, an evolutionary progeny of Homo sapiens, and are considered the next stage in human evolution, though whether this is true or not is a subject of much debate.

  • Unlike Marvel's mutates which are characters who develop their powers only after exposure to outside stimuli or energies (such as Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and Absorbing Man), mutants are born with the genetic potential to possess their powers, although the powers typically manifest at puberty.

  • Like mutates, the powers of the vast majority of Marvel's human superheroes are the result of genetic manipulation by the Celestials millions of years in the past.

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