Structural adaptations of the femur and humerus to arboreal and terrestrial environments in three species of macaque

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Abstract

One reason to measure cross-sectional structural properties of primate long bones is to define mechanically relevant complexes of traits that describe the adaptation of bone to different biomechanical environments. This can be effectively accomplished when congeneric species having different postural and locomotor behaviors are compared. This paper compares the cross-sectional geometry of the femur and humerus in three behaviorally different macaque species as a basis for defining such patterns. Cross-sectional moments of inertia in the standard anatomical planes were calculated at five locations along the diaphyses of the femur and humerus in Macaca fascicularis, M. nemestrina, and M. mulatta. The data suggest that the “barrel-shaped” femur is associated with behaviors for which long limbs and small body size are an asset. This may be associated with, but is not restricted to, leaping behaviors. The data also suggest that structural rigidity of the femur and humerus is greater per unit body weight in primates that spend significant amounts of time in terrestrial environments than in those that are more restricted to climbing in arboreal environments.

Ancillary