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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2000 May;112(1):87-101.

Uniqueness of primate forelimb posture during quadrupedal locomotion.

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Department of Anatomical Sciences, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794-8081, USA.


Among the characteristics that are thought to set primate quadrupedal locomotion apart from that of nonprimate mammals are a more protracted limb posture and larger limb angular excursion. However, kinematic aspects of primate or nonprimate quadrupedal locomotion have been documented in only a handful of species, and more widely for the hind than the forelimb. This study presents data on arm (humerus) and forelimb posture during walking for 102 species of mammals, including 53 nonhuman primates and 49 nonprimate mammals. The results demonstrate that primates uniformly display a more protracted arm and forelimb at hand touchdown of a step than nearly all other mammals. Although primates tend to end a step with a less retracted humerus, their total humeral or forelimb angular excursion exceeds that of other mammals. It is suggested that these features are components of functional adaptations to locomotion in an arboreal habitat, using clawless, grasping extremities.

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