How Strong Is a Chimpanzee?
The bone-crushing power of the apes has been greatly exaggerated.
We're still left to wonder how Bauman managed to be so far off in his calculations. The biologist himself thought that his subjects' agitation contributed to their exceptional pulls—like an adrenaline-charged mother lifting a bus off her newborn. Later scientists tended to focus on his clumsy measurement procedure. In any case, a modern and accurate comparison of human and chimpanzee strength still has meaning for scientists. By studying the evolutionary changes that made us so much wimpier than our cousins, we may be able to develop new approaches for the treatment of human muscle disorders. We won't be infusing the elderly with chimpanzee strength any time soon, but a little boost here and there for those who need it? That's hardly science fiction.
Slate V: Can apes really talk?
John Hawks is an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in human evolution and genetics. He maintains an anthropology weblog.
Still from Old Navy commercial from Old Navy.