If you’ve ever seen an orangutan swing itself from tree to tree, you may have wondered how strong it had to be to move its large body around so easily. You may have also wondered how an orangutan’s strength stacks up against that of a person. How strong is an orangutan compared to a human? And how fast? Keep reading as we answer these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
How Strong is an Orangutan?
Strength can be measured in different ways, and as you might imagine, orangutans win the competition over humans every time.
Orangutans are the largest arboreal (tree-dwelling) mammals in the world and one of the largest apes, second only to gorillas. Because of their size, they have to be exceptionally strong to move their body masses around through the trees.
So, just how strong are orangutans? It’s thought that their overall strength is about seven times that of the average human.
Let’s take a look at various criteria:
- Lifting ability: Orangutans can lift as much as 500 pounds, or two and a half times their own body weight, and make it look easy. By comparison, most humans struggle to lift their own body weight; true, some can lift significantly more, but not without years of training and bodybuilding.
- Bite force: Orangutans have an impressive bite force of nearly 600 pounds–twice that of a leopard and about four times greater than a human’s bite force. Their flat, single-rooted teeth and wide jawline are responsible for this bite force.
- Grip strength: The grip strength of orangutans is perhaps their most impressive physical ability–they can grip up to 600 pounds. A healthy human male doesn’t come close to this number, as his average grip strength is only about 73 pounds.
Orangutans are considered some of the strongest mammals on earth. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see why.
Check out this video to learn more about the strength of orangutans:
How Fast Can an Orangutan Run?
Part of why orangutans are so strong is they spend most of their time in trees–pulling themselves from branch to branch and gripping branches and trunks. For this reason, you might think orangutans wouldn’t be as skilled when it comes to moving around on the ground, but this isn’t true.
In fact, orangutans are impressive runners. They can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, almost twice the speed of the fastest humans.
What’s more, they can also jump to impressive heights. They can jump up to 18 feet in the air, then land on their feet without sustaining injury.
Their running and jumping abilities help them to escape from predators when necessary. That said, it takes a relatively long time for them to get up to their top speed, and they can only maintain that speed for short bursts.
How Similar are Orangutans and Humans?
Despite the obvious differences in size and appearance, orangutans actually share a number of similarities with humans. This is likely due to the fact that an orangutan’s DNA is 96.4 percent identical to a human’s.
So, what are some of the similarities between orangutans and humans? Let’s find out.
- Physical traits: Orangutans share 28 traits with humans, as opposed to the two traits we share with chimps and the seven we share with gorillas. Some of these traits include a hairline, a forehead, a complex brain, and flat teeth covered with enamel.
- Aging process: Orangutans have a shorter lifespan than humans, living on average from 45 to 60 years in the wild. However, they age in much the same way as humans do, experiencing age-related complications such as muscle loss, hair loss, and arthritis.
- Mother-child bond: Though orangutans are generally solitary animals, the females develop a close, almost human-like bond with their young. Juvenile orangutans stay with their mothers for up to eight years, nursing for most of that time and learning all the skills they will need to make it on their own.
- Laughter: Orangutans have the ability to laugh. Though the sound is a lower pitch than human laughter, the sound patterns and facial expressions involved are so human-like that it would be difficult to identify an orangutan’s laughter as anything else.
- Communication: Orangutans can communicate with each other through a form of sign language as well as vocal sounds. They have even displayed an ability to remember and talk about things that have happened in the past.
- Intelligence: As many of these traits and abilities demonstrate, orangutans are highly intelligent creatures, considered to be some of the smartest animals in the world. Their intelligence is further displayed by their ability to start fires and use them, to use various tools, and to pass learned information (as opposed to instinctive behaviors) on to the next generation.
Orangutans are incredibly strong and smart animals. In terms of human comparison, they are about seven times stronger than an average human, have a bite force four times as strong, and can run nearly twice as fast; they are also highly intelligent, with the ability to learn and communicate nearly as well as any human.