Where Do Chimpanzees Get Their Super-Strength? A New Study Reveals

First Posted: Jun 29, 2017 04:34 AM EDT

Chimpanzees are believed to have super-strength. Their muscular performance and power output are about 1.35 times greater than the human muscle of similar size.

Human's primate cousins are indeed many times stronger than human. So, why is this so? The secret of their super-strength is not because of their stronger muscles. It is rather due to a ratio of different kinds of muscle tissues.

The research was printed in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was led by Matthew O'Neill at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix and other colleagues at Stony Brook University, Harvard and Ohio State University, according to Phys.org.

O'Neil said that their work is the first detailed study of the biology and mechanics of chimpanzee muscle tissue. The results show that the foremost difference between human and chimpanzee muscle is in fiber distribution, in which chimpanzees have a much higher fraction of fast fibers than humans, on average. He added that all the measurements of chimpanzee muscle are new.

Chimpanzees are known for their super-strength ever since. They are adapted to forest life and climb trees all day long. They also live among the branches. Meanwhile, humans have abandoned the forest life and have the different setting, in which they adapt physical and cognitive aspects. Scientists have long been puzzled to understand the physiological and mechanical reasons for their differences, according to Gizmodo.

In the study, the researchers sampled muscle fibers from three young chimps. They used a method that combined the muscle fiber preparations, computer simulations and experiments. They gauged their maximum isometric force and maximum shortening velocity of skeletal muscle fiber. The team discovered that the limb of the chimp and trunk skeletal muscle fibers are the same just those of humans' and other mammals.

The team also gauged the distribution of muscle fiber types, and this time they found that it is quite different in human. The chimps also have longer muscle fibers than humans. Then, the team combined the individual measurements in the computer simulation model of muscle function. They discovered that the chimp muscle generates about 1.35 times more dynamics force and power than the muscle of human.

This means that chimps are more proficient in climbing and navigating trees than humans. Meanwhile, humans use much less energy during walking and can outrun animals including chimps. O'Neil said that humans are better than chimpanzees in any activity involving walking or running on two legs.

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