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Am J Primatol. 2008 Apr;70(4):356-62.

The effect of branch diameter on primate gait sequence pattern.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA.


Most mammals use lateral sequence gaits during quadrupedal locomotion, a pattern characterized by the touchdown of a forelimb directly following the ipsilateral hind limb in a given stride cycle. Primates, however, tend to use diagonal sequence (DS) gaits, whereby it is the touchdown of a contralateral forelimb that follows that of a given hind limb most closely in time. A number of scenarios have been offered to explain why primates favor DS gaits, most of them relating to the use of the arboreal habitat and, in particular, the exploitation of a narrow branch niche. This experimental study explores the potential explanation for the use of DS gaits by examining the relationship between branch diameter and gait patterns in 360 strides collected from six species of quadrupedal strepsirrhine primates on broad and narrow diameter supports. Gait sequence is quantified using limb phase, or the percentage of time during a stride cycle that a forelimb touchdown follows an ipsilateral hind limb touchdown. Although Loris, Nycticebus and Eulemur rubriventer individuals in this study did exhibit significantly lower locomotor velocities on narrower supports (P<0.01 in all three species), analyses of covariance showed no significant differences in limb phase values between broad and narrow diameter supports. Hence, results indicate surprisingly little evidence to suggest that alterations in gait sequence pattern provide a specific advantage for negotiating narrow supports.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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