• force platform;
  • vertical substrates;
  • reaction force;
  • primate behaviors


Recording reaction forces from primates during behaviors on vertical substrates, such as leaping, climbing, or biting trees, typically requires the design and construction of customized recording devices or mounting commercially available force platforms in a vertical position. The technical difficulties imposed by either option have hindered in vivo research on the kinetics of primate behaviors on vertical substrates. We describe a simple, inexpensive apparatus for recording forces from primate behaviors on vertical substrates. The apparatus includes an instrumented beam fastened directly to a horizontal force platform and a surrounding vertical substrate that does not contact the instrumented beam or platform. The contact piece at the end of the instrumented beam is positioned flush with the noninstrumented vertical substrate, and reaction forces elicited on this instrumented section are directed to the force platform. Because most of the vertical substrate is not instrumented, we can isolate and record forces from a single limb or jaw during a behavior. Biewener and Full ([ 1992] Biomechanics Structures and Positions: A Practical Approach; New York: Oxford University press, p. 45–73) gave seven criteria to consider when designing a customized force-recording device. Where appropriate, we tested if our apparatus met their criteria. The apparatus accurately records forces in three orthogonal directions, has low cross-talk, maintains a high frequency response, exhibits a linear response up to at least 200 Newtons, and displays a uniform response to a given force across the instrumented contact piece. Our design does not easily facilitate the identification of the point of force application. Therefore, joint moments cannot be easily calculated. This limitation, however, does not affect the apparatus's ability to accurately record the magnitude and direction of a force (as shown by other tests). We developed this apparatus to measure jaw forces during tree gouging in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), but the general design can be readily modified to study a variety of primate behaviors on vertical substrates. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.