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Thread: Human vs other primate strength

  1. #1 Human vs other primate strength 
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    For those who don't want to read the whole story below, here's the bottom line question - Would it be possible to put gorilla genes into a human body to increase strength?



    The strongest man in the history of the world - as measured by lifting the heaviest possible weight off the floor into a standing position - could lift 455kg. This person had a bodyweight of about 160kg.

    The heaviest lift by a man that weighs less than 60kg is 310kg.

    For women, the heaviest lift ever was 305kg by a lady with a body weight of 110kg. For ladies that weigh less than 60kg the record is 227.5kg!

    All of these feats of strength were achieved by physically talented individuals after DECADES of dedicated training and with correct dieting and probably also the ingestion of large quantities of performance enhancing drugs.

    I've read that a female chimpanzee in a zoo (she had a body weight of around 50kg and obviously led an almost sedentary lifestyle with no training, a normal diet and obviously no performance enhancing drugs), performed a one handed pull of more than 360kg whilst in a rage!!!

    This is scientific evidence to prove the almost obvious fact that animals are MUCH stronger than humans.

    I can't even imagine how much a silverback gorilla with a bodyweight of 180kg+(?) will be able to do, but figures like 700kg+ pops up in my mind!

    Why is it that they are so much stronger than us?

    My guess is that there must be as few as one or two genes that code for a different variation of protein in a gorilla's myofibrils as compared to a human, that gives them the increased maximal contraction.

    If this is so, I also guess that it will only be a matter of time before humans start using "gene therapy" techniques to improve their own strength by adding the gorilla variations to their own bodies, which will lead to inbelievable new levels of performance in sports!

    Am I on the right track?


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  3. #2 Re: Human vs other primate strength 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    For those who don't want to read the whole story below, here's the bottom line question - Would it be possible to put gorilla genes into a human body to increase strength?



    The strongest man in the history of the world - as measured by lifting the heaviest possible weight off the floor into a standing position - could lift 455kg. This person had a bodyweight of about 160kg.

    The heaviest lift by a man that weighs less than 60kg is 310kg.

    For women, the heaviest lift ever was 305kg by a lady with a body weight of 110kg. For ladies that weigh less than 60kg the record is 227.5kg!

    All of these feats of strength were achieved by physically talented individuals after DECADES of dedicated training and with correct dieting and probably also the ingestion of large quantities of performance enhancing drugs.

    I've read that a female chimpanzee in a zoo (she had a body weight of around 50kg and obviously led an almost sedentary lifestyle with no training, a normal diet and obviously no performance enhancing drugs), performed a one handed pull of more than 360kg whilst in a rage!!!

    This is scientific evidence to prove the almost obvious fact that animals are MUCH stronger than humans.

    I can't even imagine how much a silverback gorilla with a bodyweight of 180kg+(?) will be able to do, but figures like 700kg+ pops up in my mind!

    Why is it that they are so much stronger than us?

    My guess is that there must be as few as one or two genes that code for a different variation of protein in a gorilla's myofibrils as compared to a human, that gives them the increased maximal contraction.

    If this is so, I also guess that it will only be a matter of time before humans start using "gene therapy" techniques to improve their own strength by adding the gorilla variations to their own bodies, which will lead to inbelievable new levels of performance in sports!

    Am I on the right track?
    I don't believe that'll work.


    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Possibly but strength is not a single variable. It's not just muscle mass but bone structure, circulatory system, and just about every other part of the anatomy. Don't want to snap your bones, go into insulin shock, pop a blood vessel in the brain, rupture your stomach lining or wither your privates.

    Perhaps you could alter a human to be stronger but you might end up with a gorilla.
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  5. #4 Re: Human vs other primate strength 
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    [quote="scientstphilosophertheist"
    I don't believe that'll work.[/quote]

    Why? You don't really think I should just take your word for it, do you?

    I realise that a human won't become as strong as a gorilla except if he actually becomes a gorilla (as jellyologist quite sharply pointed out ), but I'm convinced that a certain improvement in strength can be achieved by using this method.

    There have been numerous studies where mRNA that codes for hormones like Growth Hormone was injected into muscles of lab animals and the result was significant increases in strength. I'm personally also quite sure that this has been done illegally on human athletes and that this method is a form of "gene doping" which is probably more widespread than most people would think. I'm convinced that many Olympians carry around genetic material that they weren't born with!!

    I'm just wondering if the results would not be even better if the genes used came from the strongest primate in the world (gorilla), instead of one of the weakest (human).
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  6. #5 Re: Human vs other primate strength 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Why? You don't really think I should just take your word for it, do you?
    no-one's asking you to take anyone's word for it
    still, my gut feeling's with scientstphilosophertheist on this one - and i always trust my gut feeling
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Again, you're just giving a one-line opinion without at least adding some form of substance to your view!

    I know you just mentioned what youre gut feel is, but I think it's probably wrong and at least I'm giving some sort of argument for why I think so. To summarise : It's been proven that adding genes (either in the form of mRNA or DNA) can improve the physical condition of an individual significantly. Since there is a huge similarity between Gorilla and human genes, I'm of the opinion that those genes that have a significant effect on the strength of a gorilla will express well in a human body and the proteins they code for will probably be similar enough to a human's to have a positive effect on strength. These gorilla proteins are probably just variants of human proteins with very small structural differences, but still with a big difference in maximal contraction limits.

    What scientific reasons can you think of why it will not work?
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    Inserting DNA in an adult human ... how would you express those genes then? IS that even possible. Say I want a GFP-tattoo, I just catch myself a jellyfish, extract the DNA, PCR away and go to the nearest tattoo shop? Will these genes be expressed if you insert them in an adult human being? I doubt it.
    (the mRNA on the other hand I'm not so sure)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas999
    Inserting DNA in an adult human ... how would you express those genes then? IS that even possible. Say I want a GFP-tattoo, I just catch myself a jellyfish, extract the DNA, PCR away and go to the nearest tattoo shop? Will these genes be expressed if you insert them in an adult human being? I doubt it.
    (the mRNA on the other hand I'm not so sure)
    Yes, of course it's possible to insert DNA into an adult human. There have probably been hunderds of different gene therapy trials over the last decade or so and all of them insert genetic material into an adult. They can do it with various methods, one of which is using an attenuated retrovirus as a vector to get it inserted into the genome of the recipient. Another method is direct injection into the muscles. The inserted genetic material get expressed by the normal transcription and translation mechanisms in the human body (depending on whether you insert DNA or RNA or mRNA, the mechanisms involved will obviously differ). These mechanisms doesn't distinguish between what the origin of the genes are and if you have a piece of mRNA in your cell it will get translated wherever it came from.

    I'm not sure what will happen with your suggestion of using jellyfish genes, because the proteins they code for probably doesn't resemble human proteins to any significant degree and they might not function in a human cell - or they might have some severe negative reaction?! They will get expressed though, because your cells doesn't know that it is not it's own mRNA, it just goes ahead and makes the proteins!
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    If i remember correctly, there was an experiment were they replaced some of the genetic code for a fruit fly's eye with the genetic code of a mouses eye, the fruit fly still developed normally and showed no signs of ever having its DNA played with. It developed into a normal fruit fly. But i suppose that the DNA between a gorilla and a human would be very similar, so i would say that it would work. Perhaps, so everything would be humane, someone could replace a gorillas dna blue print for their feet(?) with that of a humans.
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    Hmm interesting. Didn't know that was possible. Always figured you had to start from an early cell stage if you wanted to genetically modify an organism. So the (viral) vector would spread the gene throughout the entire organism? Or would it be limited to certain regions, for example only the muscles ...
    By the by, do you have any references on those experiments? Would really like to know how it works.
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    A bit on gentics. Humans share 98% (or more, quite arguable) of their genome with the gorilla. Gorillas have a chromosomal number of 48 however, not 46 like humans.

    To insert a gene eg a muscle gene of a gorilla may well be futile as we produce the same virtually the same muscle, however it is a matter of gene expression which in humans is determined largely by growth hormone. Keep in mind the anatomy of the gorilla is quite different in order to support more muscle; its not just a matter of increasing muscle mass genetically.
    To take growth hormone is a popular choice by desperate athletes, (it is illegal!) as it increases muscle mass and decreases fat by using it as an energy supply instead of carbohydrates.
    However, longterm it causes diabetes, hypertension, and renal failure.

    As for gene therapy; its way too early days with that and viral vectors are not selective invivo for tissues. Even if they were, what are you trying to do? Insert a muscle gene into muscle tissue where the gene is already being expressed?! Also, viral vectors can cause immune reactions (eg with adenovirus), tend to be transient and if they're not (as with the retrovirus), the manner in which they insert themselves into the gene may lead to cancr as they would be non selective in their region on the genome into which they insert.
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    i seem to remember that the experiment with the mouse and the fly was to do with the genes for making eyes - despite the fact that the genes came from a mouse the eye developed into a fly eye

    presumably the gene gave a general instruction "make an eye", leaving it to other genes to fill in the detail

    hence the way a gene is expressed also depends on the animal that it grows in, i.e. it is influenced by the other genes that interact with it
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie
    A bit on gentics. Humans share 98% (or more, quite arguable) of their genome with the gorilla. Gorillas have a chromosomal number of 48 however, not 46 like humans.

    To insert a gene eg a muscle gene of a gorilla may well be futile as we produce the same virtually the same muscle, however it is a matter of gene expression which in humans is determined largely by growth hormone. Keep in mind the anatomy of the gorilla is quite different in order to support more muscle; its not just a matter of increasing muscle mass genetically.
    To take growth hormone is a popular choice by desperate athletes, (it is illegal!) as it increases muscle mass and decreases fat by using it as an energy supply instead of carbohydrates.
    However, longterm it causes diabetes, hypertension, and renal failure.

    As for gene therapy; its way too early days with that and viral vectors are not selective invivo for tissues. Even if they were, what are you trying to do? Insert a muscle gene into muscle tissue where the gene is already being expressed?! Also, viral vectors can cause immune reactions (eg with adenovirus), tend to be transient and if they're not (as with the retrovirus), the manner in which they insert themselves into the gene may lead to cancr as they would be non selective in their region on the genome into which they insert.
    I know all the things you're saying, but my initial question still remains. Exactly what is it that makes a gorilla so much stronger than a human?

    You're speculating that it is largely because of a difference in growth hormone levels, but I'm not so sure. I don't know either, but my guess is that there must be other physiological differences in the muscle fibers themselves that also make a large contribution to strength. In short, I think that 1kg of gorilla muscle will be able to exert more force than 1kg of human muscle. Even very small differences in fibers can have a large effect on maximal contraction and I think there could be variations in as few as only two or three genes that cause this difference. If these alleles are "added" to a human genome (the method or the saftey thereof is not really part of this discussion) there might be a marked increase in trength. Even just a few percent will make a huge difference in professional sport.

    By the way, theres been many experiments where genes have been added to totally foreign species. I remember having seen pictures where human hairs are growing out of a cactus and of a young bean plant or something glowing on the dark because of some fluorescent insect's genes being added to it!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    By the way, theres been many experiments where genes have been added to totally foreign species. I remember having seen pictures where human hairs are growing out of a cactus and of a young bean plant or something glowing on the dark because of some fluorescent insect's genes being added to it!!
    Yes, but I doubt these genes were added when the organisms were already in a 'mature' stage. But that's prabably a bit off topic again.
    On topic, I think indeed that inserting the gene won't make a lot of difference, because it's not because you insert a gorillagene in a human that it's going to be expressed like a gorillagene. As said before, it's probably going to indicate "I am a gene for a muscle" and in collaboration with all the other (human) genes it's going to express proteins for a human muscle.
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    I hear what you're saying and realise that you might be right. I'm guessing however that the gene itself will code for a variant of a human muscle that will be stronger. I don't think the gorilla gene will code for a human muscle fiber.

    I guess this difference of opinion could be settled by physiologists who might have studied human vs gorilla muscle tissues and who might have found some kind of difference that could account for the difference in maximal contraction force. If you're correct that gorilla and human muscle fibers are identical, then the difference would definitely have to be hormonal.
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    An embryological, pretty much everything is to do with that in initial development.
    Muscle is identical. Most physiology experiments use animals such as mokeys (Im going to assume that gorillas would be the same then).

    There is hypertrophy and hyperplasia,
    Hypertrophy is bigger SIZE of cells.
    Hyperplasia is bigger NUMBER of cells.
    When you work out you increase muscle size, you only get the one set of cells a gorillla has more cells so its muscle is inherently going to be larger.
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    All muscle fibers are not identical. Some species have fibers that can contract much faster and stronger or for more prolonged periods than ours.

    Also, on what Thomas 999 said. I've re-read your post and think you might have a misconception about how a gene translates into a certain protein. The hormonal control etc around a gene can not change the structure of the protein it codes for. The nucleotide sequence can only code for a certain specific amino acid sequence which will form a certain protein. If the genes are alleles (variations) of each other but both code for muscle tissue, there will be a difference in the final tissue. If a gorilla muscle fiber is slightly different from a human fiber (I'm not 100% sure that it is though) and you put a gorilla gene into a human cell it won't suddenly code for the human variation, it will still code for the gorilla variation even though it happens in a human cell.

    The "environment" in a human cell might cause it to be expressed in different quantities and there might be different interactions between this protein and other human proteins that are already present in the cell, but the protein that the gorilla gene codes for will still be a gorilla protein, it won't suddenly change it's structure and become a human protein just because it finds itself in a human cell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    For those who don't want to read the whole story below, here's the bottom line question - Would it be possible to put gorilla genes into a human body to increase strength?
    If it's due to a protein in their muscle fibers which we lack or vise-versa then it's theoretically possible but there is no evidence that this is the case. There are all sorts of other adaptions they have which I will summarize later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    The strongest man in the history of the world - as measured by lifting the heaviest possible weight off the floor into a standing position - could lift 455kg. This person had a bodyweight of about 160kg.

    The heaviest lift by a man that weighs less than 60kg is 310kg.

    For women, the heaviest lift ever was 305kg by a lady with a body weight of 110kg. For ladies that weigh less than 60kg the record is 227.5kg!
    I'm assuming you are talking about the deadlift here. The type of lift performed is very important.


    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    All of these feats of strength were achieved by physically talented individuals after DECADES of dedicated training and with correct dieting and probably also the ingestion of large quantities of performance enhancing drugs.

    I've read that a female chimpanzee in a zoo (she had a body weight of around 50kg and obviously led an almost sedentary lifestyle with no training, a normal diet and obviously no performance enhancing drugs), performed a one handed pull of more than 360kg whilst in a rage!!!
    I wouldn't say they are sedentary (not by human standards) but yes clearly their lifestyles are not optimal for weightlifting. Personally I have doubts to the credibility of that study because extraordinarily claims require extraordinary evidence and it hasn't been replicated.

    Even assuming the study is accurate though all it shows is that chimps are far stronger than than humans in that single movement. You CANNOT assume that this applies to overall strength. Chimps are better adapted to climbing than humans so if there is one area we would expect them to beat us hands down it would be movements involving the lats and biceps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    This is scientific evidence to prove the almost obvious fact that animals are MUCH stronger than humans.

    I can't even imagine how much a silverback gorilla with a bodyweight of 180kg+(?) will be able to do, but figures like 700kg+ pops up in my mind!
    This is evidence that chimps are stronger it does not follow that animals in general are stronger nor does it prove gorillas are (I don't doubt it but your logic doesn't follow).

    Chimps are more closely related to us than they are to gorillas. If chimps and gorillas are strong for the same reason then that means that their common ancestor had genetics for strength which was lost somewhere on the homo linage.

    As for how much they can lift unfortunately it's very difficult to test. From my understanding of anatomy gorillas would destroy us at the dead-lift due to their arm length as would chimps. They would beat us at weighted pullups and curls due to their adaptions for climbing but we would win at squats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    Why is it that they are so much stronger than us?

    My guess is that there must be as few as one or two genes that code for a different variation of protein in a gorilla's myofibrils as compared to a human, that gives them the increased maximal contraction.
    I doubt your hypothesis. Muscles are heavy and nature adhors waste. Losing strength in that way would offer no evolutionary benefit to us.
    Losing muscle mass to save energy or sacrificing strength for dexterity is a more likely answer.
    There are actually all sorts of adaptions gorillas have which gives them the edge.

    More fast twitch muscle fibers in the back and arms (good for strength in pulling motions)

    Tendons attaching in positions which maximize leverage on these same muscles. They aren't anywhere near as good with pushing motions.

    Higher adrenaline levels.

    Gorillas have a LOT more muscle mass than us full stop, the genetic causes of which I believe are largely unknown.

    They also have denser bones and thicker tendons, ours would snap exerting the same level of force.

    Neurologically they are probably primed for producing force rather than control unlike us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    If this is so, I also guess that it will only be a matter of time before humans start using "gene therapy" techniques to improve their own strength by adding the gorilla variations to their own bodies, which will lead to inbelievable new levels of performance in sports!
    Am I on the right track?
    Hard to tell. There could be a gene which causes their muscles to naturally grow huge but maybe that comes at the expense of sensitivity to resistance training. Even the scientific data on muscle gain in humans is far too sparse. I don't think even a professional lifter would go for some of the other adaptions because the lack of control and endurance they would have to sacrifice would be such a severe disability.
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    Seriously?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    All of these feats of strength were achieved by physically talented individuals after DECADES of dedicated training and with correct dieting and probably also the ingestion of large quantities of performance enhancing drugs.

    I've read that a female chimpanzee in a zoo (she had a body weight of around 50kg and obviously led an almost sedentary lifestyle with no training, a normal diet and obviously no performance enhancing drugs), performed a one handed pull of more than 360kg whilst in a rage!!!
    And it seems quite doubtful to be true. Homo are so close to Pan as a Genus, I doubt there's any real difference in strength, except for perhaps certain specific motions where each probably carries an advantage.
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    I don't have anything special to add besides, it's interesting. I'm quite clueless in this area.

    I had expected chimp/gorillas to have a bigger pound for pound advantage. I heard a few stories of outrageous strength in primates. But you guys seem to say it's more complex than that.

    Anyway, I'd expect if you added the right genes to a human to improve his muscle, he'd probably lose out on something else, wouldn't he? I mean, there kinda has to be a trade-off. If you put double brain, double muscle, double speed, double everything on a human there would have to be some serious loss somewhere if at all possible, right? My guess would be brain and muscles are competing for the same energy intake, so you'd be limited here.
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    I, for one, would prefer to keep my fine motor controls over being able to lift a car.
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    Well, us humans have a great weakness over the primates. The energy consumption of our brains. This just added to the increased leg strength we require for standing up straight and running around. There is not much energy left to propel our arms. That is why primates are pound for pound twice as strong in the arms as humans. We are slightly stronger in our legs though. I can lift 160kg with a single leg. 300 with two.

    Besides conditioning, or the energy usage through the body it could also be a single gene that limits the energy consumption in our body that gives the brain its ability to function under high stress. Because we NEED to keep thinking in stressful situations. It could be the reason we are what we are right now.
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    Btw, it seems easier and safer to look at exoskeletons for help lifting a ton by yourself then inserting gorilla DNA. Not that I'm interested in lifting a ton though.

    P.S : I learned recently, that, pound for pound, our brain is the same as any primates brain, we just have a much higher percentage of bodymass on it.
    Same is not true of other mammals, like elephant's brain is "less dense" to put it roughly.
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    our brain consumes about 25% or our total energy. A primates brain consumes less than 15% of its total energy. Plus, their brain still works differently. If our brains get even slightly less oxygen or energy, we will black out. A primate will not black out directly, it will still function more on rudimentary reflexes and instincts. I dont have the paper at hand where i read this, but it is a very old one.
    The past teaches, the present watches and the future learns.

    Though religion is a concept that simply can not be ignored. The fact that a deity could stand idly by when one part of his creation slaughters another part, simply for his namesake, is a mystery i doubt theologist would dare touch.

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    Right, i m no expert and oversimplified it. I m sure if we look in details plenty of differences can be found.However the 25/15% part does not seem to contradict what i said.I wouldnt mind learning more about our differences. But as a number-minded person i found funny the similarities in primate/human brain in terms of neurons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Burger View Post
    All of these feats of strength were achieved by physically talented individuals after DECADES of dedicated training and with correct dieting and probably also the ingestion of large quantities of performance enhancing drugs.

    I've read that a female chimpanzee in a zoo (she had a body weight of around 50kg and obviously led an almost sedentary lifestyle with no training, a normal diet and obviously no performance enhancing drugs), performed a one handed pull of more than 360kg whilst in a rage!!!
    And it seems quite doubtful to be true. Homo are so close to Pan as a Genus, I doubt there's any real difference in strength, except for perhaps certain specific motions where each probably carries an advantage.
    Just look at the variation you see in dogs. Yes we have played a large role in their evolution but the differences we see all happened within about 30,000 years. We have been separated from chimps for about 7 million and gorillas even longer. A lot can happen in that time especially considering how different the environments we have adapted to are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimthegiant View Post
    Just look at the variation you see in dogs. Yes we have played a large role in their evolution but the differences we see all happened within about 30,000 years. We have been separated from chimps for about 7 million and gorillas even longer. A lot can happen in that time especially considering how different the environments we have adapted to are.
    We are virtually the same as chimps compared to the range of organism, and dogs are nearly all identical except for size and cosmetic features.

    Would be far more satisfied with a peer review study that gets into test of strength or even much better comparisons between details of chimp versus human muscle biology such as differences in myofibrils, mitochondrials etc. So far nothing in this thread has shown the basic premise that chimps are stronger is even true.
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    the "rage" thing threw the question into extremes which stand apart through massive inputs of adrenalin
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    An uncle's brother picked up a Packard after the jack collapsed trapping the uncle..... the uncle offered his brother $100 if he could duplicate the feat, which he couldn't.
    Adrenalin is a difficult variable to duplicate.
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    Would be far more satisfied with a peer review study that gets into test of strength or even much better comparisons between details of chimp versus human muscle biology such as differences in myofibrils, mitochondrials etc. So far nothing in this thread has shown the basic premise that chimps are stronger is even true.
    This study at least talks about differences in skeletal and tendon structures and flexibilities between humans and chimps. Who knew the elbow was so important?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimthegiant View Post
    Just look at the variation you see in dogs. Yes we have played a large role in their evolution but the differences we see all happened within about 30,000 years. We have been separated from chimps for about 7 million and gorillas even longer. A lot can happen in that time especially considering how different the environments we have adapted to are.
    We are virtually the same as chimps compared to the range of organism, and dogs are nearly all identical except for size and cosmetic features.

    Would be far more satisfied with a peer review study that gets into test of strength or even much better comparisons between details of chimp versus human muscle biology such as differences in myofibrils, mitochondrials etc. So far nothing in this thread has shown the basic premise that chimps are stronger is even true.
    The differences between dogs go far beyond cosmetic features. Greyhounds for example have a very high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibers which enables them to reach 70kph in just 30 meters and some breeds of dog are far better learners than others.

    http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-70610-3_17

    I
    've already covered a few of the adaptions other apes have which we lack in an earlier post.
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    I'm afraid it is dangerous idea to make human as strong as gorilla. Taking in account that many people got brains as much as gorilla they will hurt someone else much more if they will also got strength of this animal. I think it is better idea to concentrate on moral qualities and brain qualities increase. Better survivability also would be an asset.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    I'm afraid it is dangerous idea to make human as strong as gorilla.
    Give a man a crowbar (or a gun!) and he is much stronger than a gorilla. We seem to do OK.
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    Give a man a crowbar (or a gun!) and he is much stronger than a gorilla. We seem to do OK.
    Fortunately there is not always gun or crowbar under a human "horilla's" hand. Many violent crimes and even murders are committed in rage.
    I would vote for passive rather than active body strength.
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