Science Questions

How strong are gorillas?

Tue, 18th Mar 2014

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Pit your Wits...


Don Childers asked:

I am curious about the strength of a silver back gorilla compared to a man.

Years ago, I saw a silver back take a five foot diaemter truck tyre and mash it flat, picking it up and squashing it in and out several times, like a person playing an accordion. It would be very difficult for a big man just to pick the tyre up. How strong are these animals?

Don Childers.



Ginny -   An adult gorilla is about six times stronger, if you're talking Western Gorillaabout upper body strength, than an adult human.  So, thatís why they could pick up that tyre without looking like they were breaking a sweat.  If you think about it, that makes sense because, although gorillas mainly walk on the ground now, they much more recently than us swinging in the trees and they needed strong arms for that.  Even now, they walk partly on all-fours. Their arms are therefore much more frequently used to support themselves than ours are, and thatís probably one of the reasons that they're so strong.  They are actually remarkably gentle in the wild so although they could do a lot of damage, they donít tend to.

Chris -   Thatís reassuring, isnít it?  I mean, you go and see people going and seeing these gorillas and I'm often surprised actually that you can get quite that close to them!

Ginny -   Yeah.  There's some lovely footage of David Attenborough - you wouldnít be allowed to do this now because you'd be worried about infecting them and causing them harm - he was basically playing with a load of gorillas and they were climbing all over him.  They really do seem to accept him after a while.  It looks lovely.  Iíd like to have a go at that!

Chris -   I was watching an edition of a programme about the Great Barrier Reef last night and there were whales that were coming along to inspect divers.  Animals really do seem to have a degree of curiosity about us humans, donít they?

Ginny -   Definitely.  Particularly the most intelligent animals, which are the primates, the dolphins and whales. Also birds, like crows, are all very curious and very interested in us and very intelligent.


Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society