Positional behavior of Pan troglodytes in the Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks, Tanzania



The positional behavior of habituated adult chimpanzees and baboons was observed for 784 hr in a year-long study. Comparisons between species were made to establish the distinctiveness of chimpanzee positional behavior and habitat use. Brachiation (sensu stricto, i.e., hand-over-hand suspensory locomotion) was observed in low frequencies among chimpanzees, and its significance for chimpanzee anatomy is judged slight. Although no significant differences were found between sympatric baboons and chimpanzees in the proportion of time spent in the terminal branches, or in the mean diameter of weight-bearing strata, chimpanzees exhibited evidence of a terminal branch adaptation in that they, unlike baboons, used postures among smaller supporting strata different from those used among larger supports. Among chimpanzees, unimanual arm-hanging was most common among the smallest strata and was associated with smaller mean and median support diameter than other postures. Unimanual arm-hanging was the only common behavior among chimpanzees that usually involved complete abduction of the humerus. A number of behaviors often subsumed under the label “quadrumanous climbing” were distinguished in this study. Compared to baboons and other cercopithecoids, chimpanzees did not show increased frequencies of large-stratum vertical climbing, and their vertical climbing did not involve significant humeral abduction. Arm-hanging (i.e., unimanual suspension) and vertical climbing distinguish chimpanzee positional behavior from that of monkeys.