Jun 27, 2017

Weakness: it's what makes us human

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 1,502,618 — Total deaths: 89,915 — Total recoveries: 339,775Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 432,554 — Total deaths: 14,829 — Total recoveries: 24,213Map.
  3. Business: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion. — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week
  4. Federal government latest: Congress' $250 billion PPP injection could come too late for some businesses.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the death toll to 60,000.
  6. Poll: 1 in 10 Americans believe the economy will never return to normal.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion amid coronavirus crisis

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at a press conference in March. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will support the coronavirus-hit economy with up to $2.3 trillion in loans to businesses, state and city governments — made possible in part by Treasury funds set aside in the government stimulus package.

Why it matters: The Fed has taken more action amid the coronavirus outbreak than it has in any other financial crisis in U.S. history in an effort to blunt the effects of the resulting economic shutdown.

DetailsArrowUpdated 15 mins ago - Economy & Business

Senate Democrats block Republicans' $250 billion PPP injection

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Before the Paycheck Protection Program formally launched last Friday, we knew two things: The rollout would be rocky, and the initial $250 billion wouldn't be enough for America's small businesses.

The state of play: Banks and government officials have been working to smooth out the process. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attempt to pump another $250 billion into the program via unanimous consent was blocked by Democrats, who are proposing an alternative.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 16 mins ago - Economy & Business