Quadrupedal locomotion in squirrel monkeys (Cebidae: Saimiri sciureus): A cineradiographic study of limb kinematics and related substrate reaction forces


  • Manuela Schmidt

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie mit Phyletischem Museum, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, 07743 Jena, Germany
    • Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Erbertstrasse 1, 07743 Jena, Germany
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Quadrupedal locomotion of squirrel monkeys on small-diameter support was analyzed kinematically and kinetically to specify the timing between limb movements and substrate reaction forces. Limb kinematics was studied cineradiographically, and substrate reaction forces were synchronously recorded. Squirrel monkeys resemble most other quadrupedal primates in that they utilize a diagonal sequence/diagonal couplets gait when walking on small branches. This gait pattern and the ratio between limb length and trunk length influence limb kinematics. Proximal pivots of forelimbs and hindlimbs are on the same horizontal plane, thus giving both limbs the same functional length. However, the hindlimbs are anatomically longer than the forelimbs. Therefore, hindlimb joints must be more strongly flexed during the step cycle compared to the forelimb joints. Because the timing of ipsilateral limb movements prevents an increasing amount of forelimb retraction, the forelimb must be more protracted during the initial stance phase. At this posture, gravity acts with long moment arms at proximal forelimb joints. Squirrel monkeys support most of their weight on their hindlimbs. The timing of limb movements and substrate reaction forces shows that the shift of support to the hindlimbs is mainly done to reduce the compressive load on the forelimb. The hypothesis of the posterior weight shift as a dynamic strategy to reduce load on forelimbs, proposed by Reynolds ([1985]) Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 67:335–349; [1985] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 67:351–362), is supported by the high correlation of ratios between forelimb and hindlimb peak vertical forces and the range of motion of shoulder joint and scapula in primates. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.