Okay, I have a bipedal creature around 500 to 600 pounds (226 - 272 kg), and I wanted it to lift around 2 tons (1814 kg), preferably over its head, and throw the weight about 10 feet (3 meters) on Earth. I was wondering if this was possible, and if so, what kind of body plan it would have.

I'd imagine it would be difficult to get this result, due to the bones having to support that much weight.

The weight is an average car, if you need help visualizing it.

  • $\begingroup$ 500 to 600 pound is in a ballpark of large gorillas. They are known for their strength, but 2 tons should be way above their ability. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Nov 1 '17 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ Certainly possible to lift 2 tons - you're talking about a creature maybe twice the weight of a large man, and very strong men can lift the best part of half a ton. Therefore doubling that is probably believable. However, throwing it 3 metres is an entirely different proposition - I can't see a creature being anywhere near strong enough to do that. $\endgroup$ – Matt Bowyer Nov 1 '17 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ Lifting it maybe, throwing it, probably not. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Nov 1 '17 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ This honestly looks an awful lot like my question What would be required for a large mammal to realistically throw its own kind a significant distance? (possibly even to the point of being a duplicate). You probably want to check that one out. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 1 '17 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor, it ain't necessarily so: newscientist.com/article/… $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Nov 2 '17 at 13:56

So throwing 1800kg 3m is not easy. It takes an extraordinary amount of force to do this. The first question I would have is why your creature evolved to have this capacity, but that's outside of the scope of the question so we'll ignore it for now.

I look to shot put, rowing, and other similar sports for some inspiration. In all cases, the motion starts with using strong muscles (like the core and the legs) to start the motion and impart as much force as possible, followed by using the weaker muscles (arms) to get what they can out of the motion. I would expect similar. I would expect to use as much of the core and legs as possible.

So can it be done? Well, I think it's going to look more like a jump than anything. When you jump, you impart kinetic energy into your body. If you do the math, distance jumped scales linearly with the energy imparted into the jump. If you have to impart 8x as much energy because of mass (7x bodyweight in lifted weight plus 1x yours), that's equivalent to jumping 8x as far with just your normal bodyweight. Thus, your creature needs to have legs capable of jumping 24m. The human record for a standing long jump is 3.73m, so you're looking for a creature whose legs are 8x more powerful than ours. And I mean power in the dynamic sense here, not just strength. You're going to need 8x the fibers, so these are going to be beefy legs.

After doing this "jump," we need to arrest our movement. Why? Because you asked for a non-jumping solution, so we better end up where we started. To do this, we will push off the rock. This will impart some more energy, but it'll be pretty minimal. If you really wanted, you could do the math. You just have to push off with enough force to arrest your motion. This happens to be roughly enough force to jump 3m. So your creature's arms need to be about as strong as our human legs in order to do the job.

So now we have our creature's biology. If I do the math and put it in terms of my own body, the creature needs to have 2 legs, each the size of my torso. It then needs 2 arms, each the size of my legs. For a creature that's only 600kg, that's going to be tight. You're going to have to trim some mass elsewhere. It probably has a very short torso (which also helps for the lifting).

Your creature is basically a genetically engineered rock tosser whose sole purpose is to throw these 2 ton rocks around.

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    $\begingroup$ This is probably the closest to what I want so far. Nice work! $\endgroup$ – OneSurvivor Nov 2 '17 at 4:29

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

Could a 500lb creature be strong enough to lift 4x its weight, maybe the biology of this is fuzzy.

The real problem comes from physics. Throwing an object 4x heavier than you 10 ft is likely to send you flying 40 (dramatized).

Your gorilla would need some way to increase its friction such that it can complete this action. Maybe dig its legs into the ground.

It seems this is potentially possible, though I haven't found any credible source confirming a gorilla can lift 4x its weight nor do I think it can.

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't mind seeing a creature get flung backwards 40 feet from trying to throw an object forward. $\endgroup$ – OneSurvivor Nov 1 '17 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ a lot depends on the angle $\endgroup$ – anon Nov 1 '17 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @anaon I guess one thing you could do is modify the feet so they could grip the ground better. Due to my fuzzy knowledge of physics, I'd imagine throwing it at 45 degrees compared to the ground instead of 0 degrees would be a lot easier, grip with the ground included. $\endgroup$ – OneSurvivor Nov 1 '17 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ "griping" would require something strong enough to grip. I think you need to actually bury your feet. $\endgroup$ – anon Nov 1 '17 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ Note that OP isn't even asking for a factor 4x, they are asking for a factor 6.7-8.0x or greater. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 1 '17 at 22:21

There already is an animal that can lift that it is called a male gorilla, at least according to the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORD'S 1975 edition rough calculations based on observed throwing strength. Consider the strongest humans can deadlift 1000lbs, and pound for pound the other apes are about twice as strong as us.

Of course realistically they would not be able to balance with such a weight over their heads and would topple over, they just are not built for that kind of lifting, so no throwing.

Scale up to something like Gigantopithecus giganteus (4-700lbs) in it should be able to do it with no issue, whether or not it can lift it over its head.

Now that assumes 10ft is where it stops not here it impacts. If they are throwing it to hit something then no, it is not realistics, it might be at half the mass of the projectile or twice the mass of the creature. But even then it is pushing it, nor is it going to be very fast at it.

Including a study guessing why chimps are so much stronger, they are trading speed and endurance for strength.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the gigantopithecus weighed ~250 kg. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 1 '17 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ depends on the species, G. blacki is probalbly over a 1000lbs but G. giganteus would be right in the desired weight range (4-700lbs) about twice a gorilla. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 1 '17 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry it's a hard copy I have in class, I can transcribe it . "In 1924 "Boma" a 165Lbs male chimp at the Bronx zoo, New York, recorded a right handed pull (feet braced) of 847 Lbs on a dynamometer.(the comparison given is 210Lbs for a man of the same weight). On another occasion, "Suzette" registered a pull of 1260 Lbs while in a rage (same zoo)." A record from the USA of a 100Lbs chimp achieving a dead lift of 600 Lbs with ease sugests that, with training, a Male gorilla could raise 1800 Lbs $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '17 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ It is referring to this study. jstor.org/stable/1374806?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '17 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ This one is even better (and more modern) It really appears humans are just weaker than other apes. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1635523 $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '17 at 13:55

Lift, yes. Throw, no

Elite human lifters can deadlift between 3x and 4x their own bodyweight. They can do that once, maybe twice then requiring weeks or months of recovery time. Those same elite lifters are doing exceptionally well if they can overhead press their own body weight. Picking something up above your head is exceptionally difficult and is the most difficult movement that humans can do with heavy weights. The reason is because there are so many joints between the floor and the weight while overhead. Many of those joints are comparatively weak; compare the strength in human thighs to human shoulders. No comparison.

However, there is also the clean & jerk where a weight is taken from rest on the floor to an overhead position in two movements. Both of these movements utilize the larger muscle groups in the body thus enabling the larger weights. Let's be clear here though. This is a highly specialized movement with specialized equipment in controlled circumstances. Doing this in the wild will be exceptionally difficult.

Fun videos on enormous men picking up heavy things.

But my biped is huge!

True, your biped is 2x to 2.5x that of an adult male human and strength will scale with increased body weight. However, strength does not scale linearly with body size. An elite version of your biped may be able to deadlift ~1800kg but that will be an exception, rather than the rule. Lifting 1800kg overhead is just crazy.

  • $\begingroup$ Looking at the Olympic records it's mostly around 2-2.5x with with an upper limit of 3x for overhead lifts. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Nov 2 '17 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix which lifts are you looking at? I'm looking at Press only. Not snatches or clean&jerks. $\endgroup$ – Green Nov 2 '17 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ Olympic specifically is snatch and clean&jerk. They're useful ones to model against because the weight is effectively thrown upwards. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Nov 2 '17 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix I see your point. Going to make an edit. $\endgroup$ – Green Nov 2 '17 at 13:57

No it’s not possible
Sadly this is unlikely to be possible on earth with bone and muscle as we know them. The weight to be lifted is simply too great given the weight of the body doing the lifting. Such a weight could not even be lifted let alone thrown.

This might be possible using some alien form of musculature but this is very speculative.


Not reliably.

Exceptional cases have been noted by other answers and comments.

The cube-square law is so fundamental to all science disciplines that it is hardly ever discussed any more.

Mass increases with the cube of size, but strength only increases with the square of size.

See this link for a starting point: http://www.dinosaurtheory.com/scaling.html


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