Biologists have dispelled the myth of the magical «superpower» chimpanzee

© AFP 2017 / Mark RalstonШимпанзе at the zoo in Los Angeles, USABiologists have dispelled the myth of the magical «superpower» chimpanzee© 2017 AFP / Mark Ralston

Chimpanzees were only 1.35 times the strength of a person per kilogram of weight, which refutes popular ideas about the supernatural power of these apes, say scientists in an article published in the journal PNAS.

«Over the past 100 years has accumulated a lot of witnesses, indicating that the muscles of chimpanzees themselves are stronger than their counterparts in the human body. No one, however, did not check, whether so it actually. If such differences exist, then it would be a great surprise for biologists, given what we know about the properties of the muscles of the creatures about the same size — such as chimpanzees and people,» says Brian Amberger (Brian Umberger) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (USA).

In the era of the conquest of Africa by British and French explorers and adventurers in the mid-and late nineteenth century in the press and popular scientific literature began to spread stories about the mythical power of the African apes, is able to rip a person to pieces and at the same time to deal with multiple hunters at once that belonged to a chimpanzee.

Similar visible differences in the power of humans and primates many evolutionists and naturalists of that time was connected with the fact that people are assigned to life in a civilized society. Thanks to him, people can use tools and other adaptations for obtaining food, and by brute force they wouldn’t need as primates.

On the other hand, experiments that measured the direct physical force of chimpanzees in zoos and kennels, painted the opposite picture: monkeys was on average only one and a half times stronger than a man in terms of pounds mass. Amberger and his colleagues checked whether this remained the proportion for single muscle fiber, or it was actually higher for them, as claimed by the travellers of the late XIX – early XX centuries.

To conduct such experiments, scientists have identified from samples of leg muscles of chimpanzees and humans, several single muscle fibres, which was attended by one of three types of proteins responsible for contraction of muscles. The power of each of them, scientists have measured, causing the cells to shrink, along the way by studying how they were arranged molecules of the human and monkey versions of these amino acid chains.

Using this data and how distributed the fibers of all three types in the body-human primates and humans, scientists have calculated the total force of the limbs and those, and others, and compared them with each other. It turned out that the differences between apes and humans was not as significant as showed old tests: chimpanzees was only 1.35 times more than human, and their muscles of the hands and feet almost did not differ in structure from the human counterparts.

The only difference between chimpanzees from people was that their hands and feet contain relatively many «fast» muscle fibers responsible for instant application of force, which probably explains how the monkeys were able to exercise «powers» for very short periods of time.

«The downside of this is that people with multiple «slow» muscle, have more endurance and better withstand prolonged stress, such as traveling long distances. When we compared monkeys, humans and other animals, we found that not primates, and man is an anomaly here: evolution is pushing us in the direction of growth strength and growth of the «instant» power,» says Amberger.