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Think You Can Win a Fight With a Chimpanzee? This Many Americans Say Yes.

Primates are stronger than humans, science says.

Have you ever contemplated how truly tough you are—on an interspecies level? How might you fare in a barehanded fight with a goose? Or a chimp? Or a grizzly bear? It turns out plenty of people are compelled by these questions, asked by a YouGov poll that received 40,000 likes on Twitter this week. Read on to find out the results. 

Don't Try This At Home


Unsurprisingly, a majority of Americans were confident they could best a rat, house cat, and goose (72%, 69%, and 61%, respectively). According to the poll, only 30% of Americans believe they could fight off an eagle. About 15% believed they could win a fight with a king cobra and 14% with a kangaroo. And 17% of Americans believed they could win a bare-knuckle brawl with a chimpanzee. Not so fast, scientists say.

The Most Feared Opponents

crocodile in a swamp

Depending on how you look at it, only 6% of people believed they could beat a grizzly bear in a fight. Or an entire 6% of people believed they could beat a grizzly bear in a fight. The same thing goes for the 8% of people who said they could fight off a lion, elephant, or gorilla, or the 9% who said they could best a crocodile. 

Gender Differences and "Male Overconfidence" Spotlighted


"YouGov data has previously highlighted male overconfidence, but there is effectively no gender difference when it comes to this top tier of opponents," said YouGov. "Men and women are about as (un)likely to think they could beat grizzlies, lions, gorillas and crocodiles in combat."

Primates Are Stronger Than Humans, Science Says


Experts say the idea that a human can best a chimp in a fight is sorely mistaken. According to a 2017 study published in the journal PNAS, chimpanzees are 1.5 times stronger than a strapping human and contain about twice the amount of "fast-twitch" muscle fibers as we do. When it comes to actions like pushing, pulling, and lifting, humans are weaker than apes and monkeys. So don't voluntarily crawl into the boxing ring with one. 

Chimps Known to "Tear Off People's Faces," More


Sarah Bell, science communicator at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, told the UK Times that said people who lived with chimps in the wild considered them fearsome. "Anyone who has ever actually observed fully grown chimpanzees would never assume they could 'take on' a chimpanzee," she said. "Chimpanzees have been known to tear off people's faces and leave men with a little less manhood than they had before the encounter. The chimpanzee would be fearing for its life, so it would do everything in its—very impressive— power to incapacitate the threat."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a seasoned writer and editor with a passion for helping people make life-improving decisions. Read more
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