- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Ancient Greek athletes did it gibbon-style
In the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece, long-jumpers would leap while carrying weights called halteres in their hands. From either a standing start or a short run, they swung the weights and leapt as their arms came forward. The halteres each weighed up to nine kilograms, and would have added around 17 centimetres to a 3 metre jump. Olympians first used the hand weights in 708 BC, but other apes were jumping with a very similar technique millions of years earlier – gibbons.
Gibbons are undisputed masters of the treetops, best known for swinging around at unfeasible speeds from their long, powerful arms. Their wrists contain ball-and-socket joints, which allow their entire body to easily pivot about their hands.