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Energetic costs of bipedal and quadrupedal walking in Japanese macaques

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Abstract

We investigated the energetic costs of quadrupedal and bipedal walking in two Japanese macaques. The subjects were engaged in traditional bipedal performance for years, and are extremely adept bipeds. The experiment was conducted in an airtight chamber with a gas analyzer. The subjects walked quadrupedally and bipedally at fixed velocities (<5 km/hr) on a treadmill in the chamber for 2.5–6 min. We estimated energy consumption from carbon dioxide (CO2) production. While walking bipedally, energetic expenditure increased by 30% relative to quadrupedalism in one subject, and by 20% in another younger subject. Energetic costs increased linearly with velocity in quadrupedalism and bipedalism, with bipedal/quadrupedal ratios remaining almost constant. Our experiments were relatively short in duration, and thus the observed locomotor costs may include presteady-state high values. However, there was no difference in experimental duration between bipedal and quadrupedal trials. Thus, the issue of steady state cannot cancel the difference in energetic costs. Furthermore, we observed that switching of locomotor mode (quadrupedalism to bipedalism) during a session resulted in a significant increase of CO2 production. Taylor and Rowntree ([ 1973] Science 179:186–187) noted that the energetic costs for bipedal and quadrupedal walking were the same in chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys. Although the reason for this inconsistency is not clear, species-specific differences should be considered regarding bipedal locomotor energetics among nonhuman primates. Extra costs for bipedalism may not be great in these macaques. Indeed, it is known that suspensory locomotion in Ateles consumes 1.3–1.4 times as much energy relative to quadrupedal progression. This excess ratio surpasses the bipedal/quadrupedal energetic ratios in these macaques. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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