EMG of serratus anterior and trapezius in the chimpanzee: Scapular rotators revisited

Authors

  • Susan G. Larson,

    1. Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York 11794-8081
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  • Jack T. Stern Jr.,

    1. Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York 11794-8081
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  • William L. Jungers

    1. Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York 11794-8081
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Abstract

The importance of arm-raising has been a major consideration in the functional interpretation of differences in shoulder morphology among species of nonhuman primates. Among the characters that have been associated with enhancement of the arm-raising mechanism in hominoid primates are the relative enlargement of cranial trapezius and caudal serratus anterior, as the main scapular rotators, as well as changes in scapular morphology associated with their improved leverage for scapular rotation. Yet in an EMG study of cranial trapezius and caudal serratus anterior function in the great apes, Tuttle and Basmajian (Yrbk. Phys. Anthropol. 20:491–497, 1977) found these muscles to be essentially inactive during arm-raising. Although Tuttle and Basmajian suggest that the cranial orientation of the glenoid fossa in apes has reduced the demand for scapular rotation during arm-raising, subsequent EMG studies on other primate species suggest that these muscles do play a significant role in arm motion during active locomotion. This paper presents a reexamination of muscle recruitment patterns for trapezius and caudal serratus anterior in the chimpanzee. All but the lowest parts of caudal serratus anterior were found to be highly active during arm-raising motions, justifying earlier morphological interpretations of differences in caudal serratus anterior development. The lowest digitations of this muscle, while inactive during arm-raising, displayed significant activity during suspensory postures and locomotion, presumably to control the tendency of the scapula to shift cranially relative to the rib cage. Cranial trapezius did not appear to be involved in arm-raising; instead, its recruitment was closely tied to head position.

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