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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Sep 7;273(1598):2177-84.

Vertical jumping performance of bonobo (Pan paniscus) suggests superior muscle properties.

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Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Vertical jumping was used to assess muscle mechanical output in bonobos and comparisons were drawn to human jumping. Jump height, defined as the vertical displacement of the body centre of mass during the airborne phase, was determined for three bonobos of varying age and sex. All bonobos reached jump heights above 0.7 m, which greatly exceeds typical human maximal performance (0.3-0.4m). Jumps by one male bonobo (34 kg) and one human male (61.5 kg) were analysed using an inverse dynamics approach. Despite the difference in size, the mechanical output delivered by the bonobo and the human jumper during the push-off was similar: about 450 J, with a peak power output close to 3000 W. In the bonobo, most of the mechanical output was generated at the hips. To account for the mechanical output, the muscles actuating the bonobo's hips (directly and indirectly) must deliver muscle-mass-specific power and work output of 615 Wkg-1 and 92 Jkg-1, respectively. This was twice the output expected on the basis of muscle mass specific work and power in other jumping animals but seems physiologically possible. We suggest that the difference is due to a higher specific force (force per unit of cross-sectional area) in the bonobo.

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