Document Detail

Not so fast: speed effects on forelimb kinematics in cercopithecine monkeys and implications for digitigrade postures in primates.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19294733     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Terrestrial mammals are characterized by their digitigrade limb postures, which are proposed to increase effective limb length (ELL) to achieve preferred or higher locomotor speeds more efficiently. Accordingly, digitigrade postures are associated with cursorial locomotion. Unlike most medium- to large-sized terrestrial mammals, terrestrial cercopithecine monkeys lack most cursorial adaptations, but still adopt digitigrade hand postures. This study investigates when and why terrestrial cercopithecine monkeys adopt digitigrade hand postures during quadrupedal locomotion. Three cercopithecine species (Papio anubis, Macaca mulatta, Erythrocebus patas) were videotaped moving unrestrained along a horizontal runway at a range of speeds (0.4-3.4 m/s). Three-dimensional forelimb kinematic data were recorded during forelimb support. Hand posture was measured as the angle between the metacarpal segments and the ground (MGA). As predicted, a larger MGA was correlated with a longer ELL. At slower speeds, subjects used digitigrade postures (larger MGA), however, contrary to expectations, all subjects used more palmigrade hand postures (smaller MGA) at faster speeds. Digitigrade postures at slower speeds may lower cost of transport by increasing ELL and step lengths. At higher speeds, palmigrade postures may be better suited to spread out high ground reaction forces across a larger portion of the hand thereby potentially decreasing stresses in hand bones. It is concluded that a digitigrade forelimb posture in primates is not an adaptation for high speed locomotion. Accordingly, digitigrady may have evolved for different reasons in primates compared to other mammalian lineages.
Biren A Patel
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  American journal of physical anthropology     Volume:  140     ISSN:  1096-8644     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. J. Phys. Anthropol.     Publication Date:  2009 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-09-01     Completed Date:  2009-11-17     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0400654     Medline TA:  Am J Phys Anthropol     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  92-112     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens, OH 45701, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Physiological
Cercopithecidae / anatomy & histology,  physiology*
Erythrocebus patas / anatomy & histology,  physiology
Forelimb / anatomy & histology,  physiology*
Hand / physiology
Locomotion / physiology*
Macaca mulatta / anatomy & histology,  physiology
Papio anubis / anatomy & histology,  physiology

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