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Chimpanzees are about 1.35 times stronger than humans, according to a new study. But despite tales of superpower-like strength from chimps, this difference might be because humans are comparatively weak, not because our cousins are preternaturally strong.

Why it matters: The researchers think humans might be weaker than chimps because, as our ancestors became bipeds, our muscles were selected for chasing prey for long distances rather than quick feats of strength.

The authors found that human muscles are structurally different from chimpanzee muscles — and the muscles of most other primates. The chimpanzees studied had balanced amounts of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fiber, which was consistent with past studies of primates. Humans, in contrast, contain have much more slow-twitch muscle, which is associated with endurance running, not strength.

How they did it: A review of studies comparing human and chimpanzee muscle strength found that on average, the studies showed chimps were only slightly stronger than humans. Researchers then studied muscle fibers in the lab to measure how much chimpanzee muscles could shorten and how much force they could exert, but found chimps and humans were similarly strong by this method. But when they looked at the length of the muscle fibers and the fibers they were composed of, chimps were better adapted for quick strength than humans were.

Appropriately, the slow loris is the only other animal studied so far with as much slow-twitch muscle fiber as humans.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Netanyahu is out as new Israeli government survives confidence vote

Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

Israel has a new prime minister for the first time since 2009 after a power-sharing government led by Naftali Bennett survived a confidence vote on Sunday. Bennett was sworn in as prime minister.

Why it matters: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister and the man around whom Israeli politics have revolved for a decade, will now become opposition leader. Bennett, a right-wing former Netanyahu protege, will lead the most ideologically diverse government in Israeli history.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Afghanistan, cyber defense on the agenda for Biden in Brussels

Joe Biden arrives at Melsbroek Military Airport in Brussels on June 13. Photo: Yves Herman/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden touched down in Brussels on Sunday evening ahead of two days of talks with NATO and European Union leaders as part of his first foreign trip as president.

Driving the news: Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and a slate of other officials, including Douglas Jones and Mark Libby, the U.S. Permanent Representatives to NATO and the EU respectively.

Maersk CEO: Global businesses should be wary of politics

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

The CEO of the world's largest container-shipping company cautions that international firms have to be careful of taking political stances.

  • What they're saying: "We cannot run a global business if we start to have views on politics in every single country that we are in," Maersk CEO Søren Skou tells "Axios on HBO."