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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2005 Nov;128(3):659-69.

Functional analysis of the gibbon foot during terrestrial bipedal walking: plantar pressure distributions and three-dimensional ground reaction forces.

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Laboratory for Functional Morphology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium.


This paper gives a detailed analysis of bipedal walking in the white-handed gibbon, based on collected pressure and force data. These data were obtained from four gibbons in the Wild Animal Park, Planckendael, Belgium, by using a walkway with integrated force plate and pressure mat. This is the first study that collects and describes dynamic plantar pressure data of bipedally walking gibbons, and combines these with force plate data. The combination of these data with previously described roll-off patterns of gibbons, based on general observations, video images, force plates, and EMG data, gives us a detailed description of foot function during gibbon bipedalism. In addition, we compare the observed characteristics of hylobatid bipedalism with the main characteristics of bonobo and human bipedalism. We found that gibbons are midfoot/heel plantigrade, and lack the typical heel-strike of other hominoids. The hallux is widely abducted and touches down at the onset of the stance phase, which results in an L-shaped course of the center of pressure. The vertical force curve is trapezoid to triangular in shape, with high peak values compared to humans. The braking component is shorter than the accelerating component, and shortens further at higher walking velocities. Speed has a significant influence on the forefoot peak pressures and on most of the defined gait parameters (e.g., vertical force peak), and it alters the foot contact pattern as well. The investigation of existing form-function relationships in nonhuman primates is essential for the interpretation of fossil remains, and might help us understand the evolution of habitual bipedal walking in hominids.

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