BOB HIRSHON (host):
The truth about chimpanzee super-strength. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Scientists once thought that chimpanzees were several times stronger than humans. But pound for pound, chimps are about one and a half times stronger— impressive, but not extraordinary. In fact, University of Arizona anthropological biologist Matthew O’Neil and his colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that chimp strength is similar to that of other apes and many mammals.
MATTHEW O’NEIL (University of Arizona):
I don’t think it’s so much that chimpanzees are exceptional in terms of the relative force and power that they can generate, but instead humans seem to be the real outliers in terms of their mass-specific muscle performance.
He says humans have a much higher concentration of slow-twitch muscle fiber— muscle adapted for endurance— rather than powerful fast-twitch muscle needed by our tree climbing cousins. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.
Story by Bob Hirshon