A baboon is stronger than a human

Human versus chimpanzeeThe muscles make the difference

To be as strong as Tarzan is a great honor among the children of men. And yet the original film was always a little weaker than its family members, the chimpanzees. These superpowers of our closest relative have tended to be exaggerated not only in many narratives but also in early scientific studies. In the last few decades, people have become a little more cautious, as Matthew O'Neill of the University of Arizona noted when evaluating all experimental studies:

"We knew that there were a lot of studies out there trying to determine what the relative difference was. The oldest studies are still questionable in their results, but from 1940 onwards they come to more and more similar results. And as an average, we were able to determine that the relative traction and bounce in chimpanzees was about 50 percent higher than in humans. "

Weakness of the human muscles

And not about five times as high as people like to tell. "Relative force" also means here: force per kilogram of body weight, which is rather low in chimpanzees at around 40 kilograms. So they are not super powers, but they are still amazing achievements for a comparatively light being. In the next step, Matthew O'Neill and his team wanted to find out where chimpanzees get these powers with the help of muscle analyzes in chimpanzees and humans.

"We found no differences in the force that individual muscle fibers can exert. But there are different types of fibers, and they are distributed very differently in chimpanzees and humans. While all three types are roughly equally represented in chimpanzees, they predominate People the so-called slow-twitch fibers clearly. "

When muscles are used, they contract - or to put it more simply, they twitch. Slow-twitch fibers twitch more slowly and weaker than the two types of fast-twitch fibers. O'Neill and his colleagues could see from the distribution of these fibers: The chimpanzee twitches much faster and more forcefully than in humans. But the weaknesses of the human muscles are not only disadvantages, as O'Neill explains.

Better metabolic properties

"Slow-twitch fibers are really good for efficiency and endurance. They consume significantly less energy and don't tire as quickly as fast-twitch fibers. This evolutionary shift towards better metabolic properties in muscles fits in with our findings that we are comparatively efficient runners. We can run marathons, for example, which chimpanzees and other animals cannot. "

A quality that might have suited people in their activity as hunters and gatherers. And a quality that can hardly be found in any other living being. Perhaps there is, Matthew O'Neill to consider, so be it not the super muscles of the chimpanzees that are so extraordinary. Perhaps it is more the human being who is an outsider here. The only animal in which Matthew O'Neill was able to find a similar distribution of muscle fiber types as in humans is, by the way, the slow lorikeet. A lazy monkey that sleeps during the day and also moves slowly and deliberately at night.