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Keywords:

  • rhesus macaques;
  • Cayo Santiago;
  • ontogeny;
  • locomotion;
  • free-ranging;
  • nonhuman primates

Abstract

This study quantifies changes in postural and locomotor behavior as well as habitat use across the life span of free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in the Cayo Santiago colony in Puerto Rico. It focuses on developmentally related changes from birth to adulthood, and complements an earlier study by Turnquist and Wells ([1994] J Hum Evol 26:487–499) on the early postnatal ontogeny of the musculoskeletal system of the same colony. A total of 6,551 locomotor and postural events was analyzed. Selection and use of substrate correlated well with age. The more sedentary adult and dependent infant select safe, wide, horizontal arboreal settings in contrast to the older Infant IIs and Juveniles, who are learning locomotor and postural skills through independent chase and play. Infant macaques, when independent, often employ a low center of gravity and widely abducted limbs in order to broaden their contact with the base of support. This study shows that the previously reported ontogenetic changes in morphology are closely paralleled by changes in postural and locomotor behavior, and these in turn are correlated to changes in habitat use, particularly during the formative years. Am J Phys Anthropol 115:80–94, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.