– How is it apes don’t tear their muscles, tendons and ligaments when using their massive strength?

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As I understand it, apes are able to activate far more muscle fibers at once, something like 5 times the number a human can do, and this is what gives them their massive strength. The thing is, a very strong human, like a powerlifter, and plowing out their muscles, tendons and ligaments once they get past a certain point. And they are not activating any more muscles fibers than the next guy. How is it a chimp can do these powerful things and not end up in the waiting room of their orthopedic surgeon? I can understand if their parts were even twice as tough as a humans, but 5 times?

In: Biology

8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They don’t have human tendons and ligaments, they have been naturally selected to be strong, as apes that have weak tendons aren’t going to pass those genes on.

Humans on the other hand weren’t selected for strength, but endurance. We are the only land animal that can run a marathon without stopping, so this is how we catch food. And we use spears/javelins to kill prey, so strength isn’t needed to the level of other apes.

If there were body building apes, they would experience the same issues as body building humans. Race horses get injured all the time because the physiology wasn’t designed for that much muscle/speed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I think this has been answered sufficiently but I’ll give you a car analogy.

Why don’t high horsepower muscle cars blow up their transmissions all the time? Because builders put in stronger transmissions (tendons).

If you put a 1000hp LS engine (gorilla muscles) in a Honda Civic, it will destroy that (human) transmission the first time you put your foot down.

If you mate that engine to a proper performance transmission, you might break the driveshaft, so upgrade that and you finally have your horsepower to the wheels.

Same thing with gorillas, their tendons are larger and stronger than ours to match the muscle they have. The corollary is that we don’t have tendons that can handle gorilla strength because we don’t need them, and why would your body waste resources building something it doesn’t need?

Anonymous 0 Comments

For the same reason you don’t tear your arms off for throwing a fast ball.

Their entire bodies evolved at the same time. For every bit of added muscle, so too was a tendon and bone changed to support it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They almost certainly do, but they also probably(in they wild) die from the injury. An injury serious enough that it renders a limb unusable for a human is a moderate inconvenience. But modern society has you covered, you’ll have time to heal up without starving to death. An ape in the wild has no such safety net. If they lose functionality of a limb, especially a leg, there is a good chance they will simply die because they can’t get food, move with the group, or escape predators.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The powerlifters you’re talking about are most certainly on performance enhancing drugs. These drugs allow the body to recruit more resources to build significantly more muscle significantly faster than a normal human, but it doesn’t really do much for tendon and ligament growth.

Some of them put on strength too fast and the ligaments can’t keep up, some of them are just pushing the human body beyond what it is capable of handling.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Worth remembering that these primates are essentially doing advanced calisthenics with only body weight, not lifting 3x their body weight or more

Anonymous 0 Comments

I believe biomechanics plays a big role. Basically we’re rubber bands tied to sticks. Humans have a bunch of lightly stretched bands on relatively uniform sticks. Apes like chimps have tightly wound bands on longer sticks in their arms and body. They generate more explosive force more easily than us, but we’re more capable of longer term exertion. We can run 20 miles and they can lift 600 pounds, but not vice versa (in most cases)

Due to longer arms, more tendons and ligaments, and different bone attachment points for these, ape strength is basically the difference between trying to pry apart two boards with a little wedge (Humans) and a big prybar (apes). It’s simple mechanics but applied to meat and bone.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Just wanted to add that I’ve always thought they were crazy superhuman as well, but recently found out that credible research has shown they are actually around 1.5 times stronger. Still very impressive. Just wanted to share some new knowledge I acquired.