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J Hum Evol. 2004 Jun;46(6):719-38.

Convergence of forelimb and hindlimb Natural Pendular Period in baboons (Papio cynocephalus) and its implication for the evolution of primate quadrupedalism.

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Department of Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C3200, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


The patterns of muscle mass distribution along the lengths of limbs may have important effects on the mechanics and energetics of quadrupedalism. Specifically, Myers and Steudel (J. Morphol. 234 (1997) 183) have shown that fore- and hindlimb Natural Pendular Periods (NPPs) may affect quadrupedal kinematics and must converge to reduce locomotor energetic costs. This study quantifies patterns of limb mass distribution in a live sample of Papio cynocephalus using limb inertial properties (mass, center of mass, mass moment of inertia, and radius of gyration). These inertial properties are calculated using a geometric modeling technique similar to that of Crompton et al. (Am. J. phys. Anthrop. 99 (1996) 547). The inertial properties in Papio are compared to those of Canis from Myers and Steudel (J. Morphol. 234 (1997) 183). The Papio sample has convergent fore- and hindlimb NPPs. Additionally, these limb NPPs are relatively large compared to those of Canis due to the relatively distally distributed limb mass in the Papio sample (relatively large limb masses, relatively distal centers of mass and radii of gyration, and relatively large limb mass moments of inertia). This relatively distal limb mass appears related to the grasping abilities of their hands and feet. Causal links are explored between limb shape adaptations for grasping hands and feet and the kinematics of primate quadrupedalism. In particular, if primates in general follow Papio's limb mass distribution pattern, then relatively large limb NPPs may lead to the relatively low stride frequencies already documented for primates. The kinematics of primate quadrupedalism appears to have been strongly influenced by both selection for grasping hands and feet and selection for reduced locomotor energetic costs.

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