Most people focus on the intelligence of orangutans, so the orangutan strength vs human strength discussion is often overlooked.
Orangutans are the most intelligent primates and have impressive capabilities to learn and take up complex tasks and puzzles.
This intellect does not mean they lack Strength, but how do they compare to humans? This article will detail orangutans’ physical capabilities to help you understand how strong they are and why they are that way. Let us go into the details and find out more;
Orangutan Strength Vs Human Strength
There are many metrics for comparing Strength between orangutans and humans. Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling primates on the planet, and we still have to learn a lot about them. But how do humans compare to these magnificent primates? Let’s find out;
1. Bite Force
Orangutans have a prominent jawline that helps them generate the biting force to crack nuts and chew on stiff leaves in the wild. These string jaws can produce a bite force of about 575 PSI, significantly higher than humans.
Their lower jaws have single-rooted molars that allow them to grind on their meals, which include tough nuts and tree barks.
Humans have an easier diet and can cook and soften most of their food, so there isn’t much evolutionary need for a high biting force.
Humans have an average bite force of about 160 PSI, much lower than that of the orangutan due to the environment.
Depending on their dental health and diet, some people can bite harder than others as the body adapts to its environment.
A fun fact about orangutans is that they use their lips to sense food texture before biting it. This gives them a sense of how tough the food is so they can eat it or move on to something better.
Orangutans need a solid grip to easily maneuver through the trees without falling. Their massive weight could be hard to control in the treetops, so they need a string grip to hold onto branches and propel them forward.
For these reasons, an average orangutan has a grip force of between 500 and 600 pounds. The standing Guinness world record grip for the species is 650 pounds. Humans mostly use their grip to operate tools and handle dexterous tasks, so it is not as strong.
Humans have an average grip force of about 60 PSI, with the maximum being 76 PSI. This is almost insignificant compared to the orangutan’s 600 psi grip force, and it is a good measure of just how strong these primates are.
The human grip is used for writing, cutting, driving, and other relatively low-energy aspects. So it is more about finesse than brute force, so they need training to get anywhere near as powerful as orangutans.
3. Lifting Strength
Orangutans are massive primates, bigger than most humans, yet they spend their lives in the trees swinging amongst the branches.
This continuous strain means they have built up a lot of Strength in their muscles, and they can lift upwards of 500 pounds or 227 kilograms.
Adult humans can comfortably lift around 45 kg or 100 pounds over their heads, but it depends entirely on training. Some humans have raised as much as 263 kilograms, the current word record for an overhead lift.
This is a superhuman feat, and most average humans can’t do half that, so it can’t be used as a species generalization.
Regardless of how you look at it, orangutans are stronger than humans and better adapted to their forest homes.
Are Orangutans The Strongest Primates?
All the impressive stats about how much stronger than humans orangutans are must have got you wondering how they compare to other primates. Despite their remarkable Strength, orangutans are not the strongest primates.
The strongest primates are the gorillas, with the orangutans coming second and chimpanzees coming third. The gorilla has a bite force of about 1300 PSI, almost three times that of the orangutan.
They are stronger and bigger than orangutans but are terrestrial, meaning they spend their time on land, not trees.
This difference affects their Strength; orangutans can lift weights over their head more easily than gorillas.
Orangutan hips are highly mobile, and their joints have full rotation a the joints. This means they can move their legs to any angle without breaking them, which gives an added advantage.
Their legs are smaller since they don’t primarily support their weight, and most of the work goes to the hands.
This difference is apparent in gorillas that mainly use their legs; you can see their legs are bigger and stronger than orangutans.
A gorilla could lift 1000 pounds off the ground easily but could do the same weight above its head. Despite all that, gorillas are at the top of the food chain in the primate area, being bigger and stronger.
Chimps come in after the orangutans when talking about Strength. One of the best ways to understand the strength difference is to compare their weight. Chimps weigh between 70 and 150 pounds, while orangutans weigh between 85 and 250 pounds.
Bigger animals are generally stronger to support their weight, which is the leading cause of the difference. Chimpanzees are about 1.5 times stronger than humans, while orangutans are about 7 times stronger.
Chimps have longer and stronger hind legs that allow them to jump further, which makes them faster than orangutans.
Orangutans are gentle giants, often calm or mildly playful, while chimps are aggressive and can attack easily.
Thanks to this additional aggressiveness, a chimpanzee could win the fight against an orangutan since they are more experienced in violence.
A single blow from an orangutan can kill a chimp, but chimps are very swift and have sharp teeth and strong biting force.
Like humans, orangutans don’t have claws; instead, they have fingernails and toenails. Their nails are tougher than humans, but they serve a similar purpose. They are used for opening, cleaning, scratching and scraping.
Understanding Why Orangutans Are So Strong
Orangutans are highly intelligent and relatively docile, so some people might not understand how they are as strong as they are. Orangutans are a perfect example of how nature allows animals to adapt and survive in their environments.
Orangutans are large and still arboreal, leading to them developing strong forelimbs. The limbs connect to string yet flexible shoulders and hips, facilitating their movement between trees. They can stay in the trees long despite their heavy weight.
The more body muscles an orangutan uses, the stronger they become. The constant swinging and climbing movements allow them to strengthen their muscles as they grow. Think of it as going to the gym and lifting your weight for several hours daily.
Orangutans have long, curved fingers and toes that allow for quick grabbing and releasing branches.
This is critical in swinging in the trees without slipping and falling. They have opposable thumbs that allow them to grab and manipulate objects.
Their feet are adapted for grabbing and climbing trees, giving additional support. They can easily climb and manipulate objects with just their hands or feet.
They are agile enough to put their feet in their mouth while holding onto a branch with their hands, which is handy in foraging.
Another major contributor to their Strength is their diet. An orangutan’s diet comprises about 90% fruits, which are rich in vitamins and calories.
The orangutan’s huge body requires a lot of food with proteins, carbohydrates, calories, and vitamins to give them energy.
They have rather hefty dietary needs, so they are opportunistic foragers. This means they can’t afford to be picky about what they eat; they will eat most of the leaves and fruits they can find. Everything is on the menu: bark, roots, leaves, nuts, and fruits.
Orangutans spend around 7 hours daily foraging, taking in between 1500 and 3000 kilojoules daily. Orangutans are omnivorous like most primates and often supplement their diet with protein sources they find in their environments.
They eat eggs, insects, and small animals in their environment to create a balanced diet for their high-energy lifestyle.
This diverse diet contributes to their impressive Strength and body weight. Orangutans are a sexually dimorphic species, so their Strength and size differ based on gender.
Male orangutans are significantly larger and stronger than females. Males weigh between 150 and 250 pounds, while females weigh between 85 and 110 pounds.
You now have all the information on orangutan strength vs human Strength, and you understand the source of their Strength.
Orangutans are massive, but they have adapted to have string forelimbs so they can forage in trees with skill, like chimpanzees.
Adaptation and the constant push from their environment have caused orangutans to be much stronger than humans.
They constantly swing on trees to find food, a physical exercise that helps them create the strong muscles they need to survive in the wild.