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J Hum Evol. 2004 Mar;46(3):317-35.

Climbing and the daily energy cost of locomotion in wild chimpanzees: implications for hominoid locomotor evolution.

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  • 150A Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. pontzer@fas.harvard.edu

Abstract

As noted by previous researchers, the chimpanzee postcranial anatomy reflects a compromise between the competing demands of arboreal and terrestrial locomotion. In this study, we measured the distance climbed and walked per day in a population of wild chimpanzees and used published equations to calculate the relative daily energy costs. Results were used to test hypotheses regarding the arboreal-terrestrial tradeoff in chimpanzee anatomy, specifically whether arboreal adaptations serve to minimize daily locomotor energy costs by decreasing the energy spent climbing. Our results show that chimpanzees spend approximately ten-times more energy per day on terrestrial travel than on vertical climbing, a figure inconsistent with minimizing energy costs in our model. This suggests non-energetic factors, such as avoiding falls from the canopy, may be the primary forces maintaining energetically costly climbing adaptations. These analyses are relevant to anatomical comparisons with living and extinct hominoids.

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