Document Detail

Is primate-like quadrupedalism necessary for fine-branch locomotion? A test using sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps).
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20153016     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Locomotor features shared by arboreal marsupials and primates are frequently cited as a functional complex that evolved in the context of a "fine branch niche." Adaptation to a fine branch niche cannot be understood without considering that small and large arboreal mammals may differ in their biomechanical response to a given branch size. We tested the effects of substrate diameter and orientation on quadrupedal kinematics in a small arboreal marsupial (the sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps). P. breviceps individuals were filmed moving across a flat horizontal surface and on horizontal, inclining and declining poles of diameter 2.5, 1.0, and 0.5cm. Gait frequencies, limb phases, speeds and duty factors were compared across substrate conditions. P. breviceps had a clear preference for lateral sequence/diagonal couplets gaits, regardless of substrate type, diameter or orientation. Limb phase was significantly influenced by substrate type (higher limb phases on poles vs. the flat surface) and by orientation (higher limb phases on inclined vs. horizontal poles), but was not influenced by pole diameter. Speed was lowest on declines, and duty factors (at a given speed) were highest on the flat board, smallest pole, and on declines. P. breviceps exhibited some parallels, but also some departures from the characteristic patterns of other arboreal marsupials and primates. Notably, limb phase values, on average, remained lower in P. breviceps than those recorded for primates or other arboreal marsupials. We suggest that arboreal mammals of different body sizes may use dissimilar, but apparently equally successful strategies for navigating a "fine branch niche."
Liza J Shapiro; Jesse W Young
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.     Date:  2010-02-11
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of human evolution     Volume:  58     ISSN:  1095-8606     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Hum. Evol.     Publication Date:  2010 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-04-19     Completed Date:  2010-07-13     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0337330     Medline TA:  J Hum Evol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  309-19     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-0303, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
Behavior, Animal / physiology
Extremities / physiology
Gait / physiology
Locomotion / physiology*
Marsupialia / physiology*
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