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Folia Primatol (Basel). 2007;78(1):1-18.

Glenohumeral mobility in primates.

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Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.


This study refutes the traditional idea that the glenohumeral joint of hominoids is more mobile than that of other primates, a belief that forms a basis for the two prominent theories of hominoid evolution. According to the brachiation theory, many anatomical features of the hominoid shoulder (including those of the glenohumeral joint) increase shoulder mobility and are interpreted as adaptations for brachiation. The slow climbing theory explains the same set of features as adaptations for slow climbing. The slow-climbing primates should therefore also possess these features, and their glenohumeral mobility should be the same as that of hominoids and be higher than that of other primates. This study presents three-dimensional glenohumeral mobility data, measured using a single video camera method on fresh specimens. The results show that the hominoid glenohumeral joint is actually less mobile than those of non-hominoid primates, including the habitually slow-climbing lorines, but it is characterized by a smooth excursion in the scapulocranial direction.

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